Leaders rally for Kyra’s Law

Leaders rally for Kyra’s Law
Jacqueline Franchetti speaking at Kyra's Rally for Change. Speakers at the event requested Gov. Kathy Hochul to include Kyra's Law in the State of the State and sign it into law. (Photo by Steven Keehner)

Local leaders rallied outside the Nassau County Courthouse to push for improved child abuse protection legislation on Thursday morning.

At Kyra’s Rally for Change, which was held on the six-year anniversary of the funeral of Manhasset resident Jacqueline Franchetti’s two-year-old daughter, speakers urged Gov. Kathy Hochul to include Kyra’s Law in the State of the State and sign it into law.

On July 27, 2016, as Kyra was sleeping at her father’s Virginia home on an unsupervised, court-approved visit, he shot her twice in the back. He shot himself after setting the house on fire.

“What happened to Krya is textbook,” said Franchetti. “This is happening in case after case — where child abuse is being dismissed, discounted, pushed aside — that cannot happen anymore.”

She started the Kyra Franchetti Foundation and Kyra’s Champions after her daughter’s death. Their goal is to prevent children involved in custody disputes from being forced to live with an abusive parent.

The CDC estimates that in the U.S., at least 1 in 7 children have experienced child abuse or neglect in the previous year. Because of many unreported instances, they say this is likely an underestimate. In 2020, abuse and neglect resulted in 1,750 child fatalities in the US.

Franchetti expressed her appreciation for the turnout, despite what the date signified.

“Six years ago, I had to say my final goodbye to Kyra,” she said. “Today marks the six-year anniversary of the day that we had her funeral and burial. She deserved so much more.”

State Senators. Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk) and Anna Kaplan (D-North Hills) as well as state Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz (D-The Bronx) spoke in favor of the law. They all agreed that the cause was crucial, regardless of political affiliation.

In her speech, Kaplan said child abuse needs to be prevented at all costs.

“We need to pass Kyra’s Law,” she said. “Which will ensure that children involved in custody cases are protected and that their safety is centered and prioritized.”

Franchetti’s campaigning has resulted in several bills being introduced, including Senate Bill S7425, which would establish Kyra’s Law.

These include that when deciding on child custody and visitation, the court must consider the child’s health and safety. It also guides the court’s presumptions and includes specific evidence in such situations, and it requires court staff to take part in training to handle cases involving domestic violence and child abuse.

The bill is currently in the Senate Committee Rules Committee. Palumbo said the process as it exists is flawed.

“When you have an allegation of abuse, we have a process and yes, it’s excruciating,” said Palumbo. “The process is often why many individuals and parents refuse to bring a new case because it’s exhausting. And it costs money, and it takes forever, and it’s laborious and not only on the party’s with the children as well.”

Attendees held up signs endorsing Kyra’s Law and other child protection legislation. Student activists also talked about other stories like Kyra’s between officials’ speeches.

Shayna Blumenfeld, Kyra’s Champions Youth Ambassador, said these situations could have been avoided. She said that despite her age, she can see the flaws in the current system.

“You might think I am too young to have a say. After all, I’m only 15,” she said. “But I know a few things. I know numbers. I know our judicial system is failing my friends. And I know child safety should be no must be the top priority and custody cases. Protect our kids, say it with me: protect our kids.”

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