The 4th District Court of Appeals yesterday upheld the constitutionality of a state law relating to the termination of parental rights shaped by Senator Lauren Book before she became a member of the Florida Legislature. The law provides a pathway to terminate the parental rights of those who have committed egregious acts of child abuse, even in cases where the perpetrator did not harm their own child.
“I applaud the 4th District Court of Appeal’s ruling which provides protections for vulnerable children against known predators and abusers,” says Book, a survivor of child sexual abuse and renowned child safety advocate. “Ninety percent of the time a child is harmed, it’s at the hands of someone they know and trust. When a parent displays an ability to cause unthinkable harm to a child in the form of physical or sexual assault, that person has turned from protector to abuser. Children’s wellbeing must be safeguarded above all else — even at the expense of parental rights.”
Book advocated for this change in law after becoming aware of the case of a young teen mother in Bay County who was impregnated by her step-father following years of sexual abuse which began when the girl was six years old. After this young teen had her baby, her predatory step-father – who was also the biological father of her child – attempted to exercise custody rights from prison. The teen had no formal legal pathway to terminate his parental rights to their child until Book successfully championed the change in law.