Gov. Murphy Signs Bill to Protect N.J Kids in Schools
Bill will close hiring loophole, keeping sexual abusers out of schools
NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – April 12, 2018 – Governor Phil Murphy signed a bill into law which will better protect students in New Jersey schools from sexual abuse.
Prevent Child Abuse-New Jersey (PCA-NJ) and the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NJCASA), led the advocacy efforts for S414/A3381, which prohibits a school district, charter school, or contracted service provider holding a contract with a school district or charter school from employing a person serving in a position which involves regular contact with students unless the employer conducts a review of the employment history of the applicant by contacting former and current employers and requesting information regarding child abuse and sexual misconduct allegations.
Rush Russell, Executive Director of PCA-NJ stated, “New Jersey has taken a giant step forward to better protect students from sexual abuse which may be committed by school employees. This important bill stops the secrecy that protected offenders from hiding behind nondisclosure agreements and moving on to other jobs in other schools….and abusing more children”.
“This common-sense legislation affirms New Jersey’s commitment to ensuring the safety of every student,” said Patricia Teffenhart, Executive Director of the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault. “We know most educators would never dream of harming a student, but those who do simply shouldn’t be allowed to continue working in schools. We commend Governor Murphy for taking action to close this loophole in the hiring practices for individuals to whom we entrust our children.”
The bill, which was sponsored by Assembly members Downey, Webber, Lampitt, and Lagana, and Senators Pennacchio, Bucco, and Ruiz, passed unanimously through the legislature following a report from NJ Advance Media detailing teachers in N.J. serially abusing students and moving between schools without detection. In addition to advocacy from NJCASA and PCA-NJ, the bill was supported by 18 organizations who work to prevent child sexual abuse and on behalf of survivors of sexual and/or domestic violence.
Similar legislation has passed in at least six other states, including Oregon, Washington, Missouri, Connecticut, Nevada, and Pennsylvania. Nationally, the Department of Education found that 4.5M students experienced unwanted sexual contact from a school employee.
More information about PCA-NJ is available at www.preventchildabusenj.org
Prevent Child Abuse-New Jersey promotes great childhoods, positive parenting and healthy child development. Founded in 1979, all our efforts throughout the state are dedicated to preventing child abuse and neglect in all forms for all New Jersey children. Annually, PCA-NJ serves tens of thousands of children and families throughout New Jersey. PCA-NJ is the New Jersey Chapter of Prevent Child Abuse America, a network of chapters in all 50 states. For more information, call 732-246-8060 x123 or visit www.preventchildabusenj.org