On this past Tuesday (May 16th), Kansas lawmakers met in the state’s capital of Topeka to hold a hearing concerning Adrian’s Act, a bill that was designed to implement new measures to prevent child abuse.
This bill was named in honor of Adrian Jones (pictured in the photo collage above), a seven-year-old boy from Wyandotte County, Kansas who was abused and eventually killed by his father and stepmother in 2015. Earlier this year, Michael A. Jones (Adrian’s father) was sentenced to life in prison without parole after pleading guilty to his son’s death.
Tuesday’s legislative hearing was held one day after what would have been Adrian’s ninth birthday.
Heather Jones, Adrian’s stepmother was also given a lengthy prison sentence after pleading guilty to murder and child abuse charges late last year. According to KSHB-TV 41, a local Kansas City area news source, Adrian, as well as his siblings were homeschooled by their parents.
The bill discussed at Tuesday’s hearing requires adults to report child abuse in any home where they are a resident. There are also no new restrictions on homeschoolers in Kansas in the bill as it stood on Tuesday. The Kansas Department of Children and Families (DCF) supports Adrian’s Act.
Judy Conway, the grandmother of Adrian Jones was one of the people who testified at Tuesday’s hearing to show support for the child abuse prevention bill. “This is a big step forward,” Conway said at the hearing, according to KSHB-TV 41. “It may only be a little part of protecting children but I think it’s a start,” she continued.
However, Wyandotte County, Kansas District Attorney Mark Dupree feels as though Adrian’s Act needs to take more steps forward as it pertains to how homeschooling parents are regulated in the state of Kansas. Mr. Dupree also testified at Tuesday’s hearing and voiced his critical analysis of the new bill.
“I believe this situation occurred because the child was only seen by his abusers,” he told KSHB-TV 41.
The case of Adrian Jones is indeed tragic. No family should ever have to endure the loss of a child under any circumstance, let alone at the hands of that child’s own caretakers. However, it is very important for Kansas lawmakers and prosecutors to realize that child abuse also occurs in the homes of children who attend conventional schools.
Once it’s signed into law, Adrian’s Act should not be a piece of anti-homeschooling legislation. It should contain legal requirements that prevent the abuse of all children whether they are homeschooled, attend public schools, or are educated in the private sector.
Finally, a fully-crafted anti-child abuse law made in Adrian’s honor needs to place an onus on other stakeholders of the community’s children, such as agencies like DCF. Other proactive measures include activities associated with better community policing, which is focused on creating the personable dialogue needed to prevent violence of all kinds.