Governor Lee Signs Law Increasing Criminal Penalty For Indirect Abuse Or Harm Of A Child

Image Credit: Canva

The Tennessee Conservative Staff –

Governor Bill Lee signed a bill into law on Wednesday that significantly increases penalties for individuals who indirectly cause harm or death to a child, even if they are not the ones directly inflicting the abuse. 

House Bill 1817 (HB1817), alongside its Senate companion bill 2662 (SB2662) successfully passed through both chambers of the General Assembly, marking a significant step in addressing child endangerment and neglect.


Sponsored by State Representative Mary Littleton (R-District 78-Dickson) and State Senator Dawn White (R-District 13-Murfreesboro), the bill amends current legislation to elevate the severity of the offense. 

Specifically, the law raises the penalty for child endangerment by a parent or custodian of a child eight years of age or younger from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class D felony if the parent or guardian knowingly exposes the child to abuse or neglect resulting in physical injury or imminent danger. 

The misdemeanor charge would come with a possible penalty of up to one year in jail. The updated felony charge will require a minimum of two years of jail, with the possibility of up to four years.

Additionally, it increases the penalty from a Class D felony to a Class B felony for individuals who negligently engage in conduct placing a child eight years of age or younger in imminent danger of death or bodily harm.

The distinction lies in the legal definitions of “knowingly” and “negligently.” Acting “knowingly” indicates that the defendant is practically certain that their conduct will cause a harmful result, while acting “negligently” suggests the defendant was not aware of the risk of harm but should have been. 


The force behind this legislation stems from the alarming rise in child trafficking cases across Tennessee, particularly in Middle Tennessee.

Reports indicate a staggering increase in minor sex trafficking, with victims as young as five months old. Lawmakers recognize the need to hold individuals accountable for enabling such heinous crimes against children.

The bill garnered strong bipartisan support, passing unanimously in the Senate and with a significant majority in the House, with only two dissenting votes. Notably, Democrat Representatives Aftyn Behn (D-District 51-Nashville) and Justin Pearson (D-District 86-Memphis) opposed the measure.

With Governor Bill Lee’s signature, this legislation reinforces Tennessee’s commitment to protecting its most vulnerable citizens and ensuring that those who contribute to the abuse and neglect of children face appropriate consequences under the law.

One thought on “Governor Lee Signs Law Increasing Criminal Penalty For Indirect Abuse Or Harm Of A Child

  • May 2, 2024 at 6:51 pm

    Does this include the public schools that have a free pass on contributing to the delinquency of minors with their gay kiddie porn? Or when their employees rape the students (see Hamilton, White, Tipton, Rutherford counties), or they have their satanic tranny substitutes (see White, Hamilton counties) in contact with children, is the school administration additionally liable?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *