TRENTON, N.J. – The Assembly today approved legislation increasing the penalties for failing to report child sexual abuse. Sponsored by Assemblywoman Nancy F. Munoz and Assemblyman Edward Thomson, the bill (S641/A850) requires those who believe a child has been sexually abused to immediately report it to police.
The bill passed the Senate in June and now goes to Gov. Phil Murphy for his consideration.
“When you have information about the abuse of a child, the only proper thing to do is turn that over to law enforcement,” said Munoz (R-Union). “It is everyone’s responsibility to fight abuse and neglect. 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 $1,000 fine. Currently, the state Division of Youth and Family Services must be notified if abuse is suspected, and failure to do so if a disorderly person’s offense.