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Committee Advances McKnight, Chaparro & Mosquera Bill Addressing Counseling for Children Who Witness or Are Present for Acts of Domestic Violence

In recognition of the psychological impact domestic violence can have on children who are present for or witness the act, Assembly Democrats Angela McKnight, Annette Chaparro and Gabriela Mosquera sponsor a bill to notify parents about counseling opportunities for these children and provide further protections for them.

Around 80 percent of all domestic assaults are witnessed by minors. Intimate partner violence not only harms the victimized adult, but has a remarkably negative impact on children who are present for the abuse.

Current law already requires victims and abusers to be notified of any programs/services that can offer counseling and advice. The bill (A-1736) requires the adults to be notified of available counseling for their child as well, if the child was physically present for or heard/saw the act of domestic violence.

Judges may also choose to mandate counseling when determining what relief to grant victims in domestic violence hearings.

Upon the measure being advanced by the Assembly Women and Children Committee on Monday, Assembly sponsors McKnight, Chaparro (both D-Hudson) and Gabriela Mosquera (D-Camden, Gloucester) issued the following joint statement:


“Even when children are not a direct victim of physical abuse, witnessing domestic violence in their home can have serious short and long-term effects on their psychosocial development. Fear, shame, sadness, guilt and anger can build up and overwhelm children who were present for such terrifying situations.

“Counselors can help these children process their traumatic experiences and work through the challenging emotions associated with domestic violence. Making sure parents are aware of available programs and services will ensure more children throughout our state receive the help they need after witnessing domestic violence.”