Proposed Comprehensive Legislation to Keep Kids Safer Through Prevention, Tougher Penalties
(TRENTON) – Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald on Thursday announced he’s introduced the Child Protection Act of 2012 and other legislation aimed at protecting New Jersey’s children from sexual abuse.
The three bills provide critical updates to state laws to address the problem of sexual abuse of children in New Jersey through a combination of prevention, training, and tougher penalties.
“There are few things on this earth that are more despicable and heinous than an adult sexually abusing a child,” said Greenwald (D-Camden). “As legislators and as parents, it is our duty to address the problem of children being sexually abused by updating New Jersey’s laws to expand prevention and toughen both civil and criminal penalties for offenders.”
Current law provides for a two year statute of limitations for civil actions brought by victims against their abusers. As a result, many victims of sexual abuse as a child face significant hurdles or find their claims entirely foreclosed. leaving them without a remedy.
In addition to toughening criminal penalties for child sexual abuse, Greenwald’s legislation would eliminate the statute of limitations for a civil action directly against the abuser, while expanding the category of persons who are liable for knowingly permitting or acquiescing to the sexual abuse of a child.
Greenwald’s bill also provides critical updates to New Jersey law geared toward preventing and stopping sexual abuse of children.
Under the legislation, more employees and in some cases volunteers of public and non-public schools would be required to undergo criminal background checks every three years during the course of their employment.
The measures also require training programs for employees and volunteers of public and nonpublic schools as well as youth service organizations–training employees on how to recognize signs of child sexual abuse and how to appropriately report such abuse to the proper authorities.
“When it comes to cracking down on the sexual abuse of children, it’s clear that a comprehensive approach is needed, and that is precisely the approach my legislation delivers,” said Greenwald. “In enacting these needed measures, we will send an unmistakable signal that New Jersey will stand strongly against child abusers and those who knowingly permit such deplorable acts to take place.”
Specifically, the legislation introduced by Greenwald includes:
· The Child Protection Act of 2012 (A-2681) that takes a comprehensive approach, significantly expanding statutes of limitations for and categories of persons who are liable in civil actions against an alleged abuser.
· The Child Protection Act of 2012 also takes significant steps to strengthen prevention–increasing requirements for criminal background checks for those in regular contact with children and requiring additional training programs for school employees and volunteers on how to spot signs that a child may have been sexually abused.
· A bill (A-2682) to increase the fixed minimum sentence for repeat offenders committing sexual abuse from five to eight years in prison.
· A measure (A-2683) that sharply increases criminal fines that persons convicted of sex offenses under Megan’s Law must pay upon conviction
The bills will be referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee.