TRENTON, N.J. – A bill that will increase penalties for failing to report child sexual abuse was signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy today. The legislation (S641/A850), sponsored by Assemblywoman Nancy F. Munoz and Assemblyman Edward Thomson, requires those who believe a child has been sexually abused to immediately report it to the Division of Child Protection and Permanency.
“It is everyone’s responsibility to fight abuse and neglect,” said Munoz (R-Union). “A child’s life may depend on someone reporting it.”
Research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control estimates that approximately one in six boys and one in four girls are sexually abused before the age of 18.
“Child abuse affects 1.8 million children between the ages of 12 and 19 in this country,” said Thomson (R-Monmouth). “The statistics are shocking. Raising the penalty for not reporting these crimes will better protect our children, and that is the key here.”
The bill makes failure to report the abuse a fourth degree crime with penalties up to 18 months in prison and a fine up to $10,000. It was only a disorderly person’s offense that could result in up to six months in prison and a fine up to $1,000.