On a November morning in 2013, Erica Hammel learned over the phone that her 1-year-old son Wyatt was near death -- hospitalized with a skull fracture and brain damage after being violently shaken by a woman trusted to care for him.
Hammel would later learn the woman had twice been convicted of child abuse -- a revelation that led the Michigan mother to fight for a state-wide child abuser registry, which, if passed, would be the first of its kind in the nation.
Wyatt, now 3, survived -- having undergone four brain surgeries -- but has significant impairment. Hammel said she believes a public registry with instant access to prior offenses -- much like that of a sex offender registry -- would have prevented her son's ordeal.
"She had been convicted twice of child abuse in the past and I had no idea," Hammel said of her son's abuser, Rachel Edwards, who was living with Hammel's ex-husband in a rental home in a Detroit suburb at the time of the incident.
"Children are the most innocent and vulnerable members of society. At age one, Wyatt obviously couldn’t fight back," Hammel, 27, of St. Clair Shores, Mich., told FoxNews.com.
"Having this type of law would prevent others from going through what my son did," Hammel said of the bills -- collectively known as "Wyatt's Law" -- which are currently under consideration by the Michigan state legislature.
The package of three bills, first introduced to lawmakers in October, would create a state-wide child abuse registry to be maintained by the Michigan State Police. It would also require first, second and third-degree offenders to register for 10 years and fourth-degree offenders for five years.
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