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On Thursday, the Michigan state House Judiciary Committee conducted a hearing on House Bill 5153, which would provide legal immunity to entities providing “child services programs.” In essence, the bill would remove civil liability for almost all instances of personal injury and property damage. Despite heavy support from the Catholic Conference, the bill failed to reach a vote and is likely to die in committee.

The failure of the bill to advance out of committee represents a bright spot in the otherwise bleak landscape of child-protection laws in Michigan and across the country. At a time when deplorable conduct – scandal and cover-up in both religious and secular institutions – dominate headlines, our laws should be changed to make children safer, not their abusers. It is alarming that anyone could support a measure that would make it harder for a sexual abuse survivor to hold the wrongdoer accountable.

Although yesterday’s committee hearing was a small victory, Michigan has a long way to go. Our laws are currently among the worst in the nation for protecting children. The only way that will change is if you contact your state representative and state senator and urge them to hold responsible the abusers and those who knew and did nothing.

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