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Cruz-Perez Bill to Require Child Abuse Hotline Information to be Posted in Schools Advances

Nilsa Cruz-Perez

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Nilsa Cruz-Perez requiring all boards of education to post information about the hotline for reporting child abuse in each of its schools advanced from the Senate Education Committee today.

“This change will bring awareness to our children regarding abuse that may be happening to them or to their friends and classmates,” said Senator Cruz-Perez (D-Camden/Gloucester). “Providing the hotline information is a small step we can take to give children the tools they need to report any type of abuse they are suffering within their homes or elsewhere without fear of further punishment.

The bill, S-2728, requires the board of education, within 30 days after its enactment, to prominently display information about the Department of Children and Families’ State Central Registry, a toll free hotline for reporting child abuse, in each school of the district. The information would be required to give instructions to call 911 for emergencies and include directions for accessing the department’s website or social media platforms for more information on reporting abuse, neglect and exploitation.

The bill would dictate that the information would be in a format and language that is clear, simple, and understandable.  The information would be on a poster and displayed at each school in at least one high-traffic area and in a clearly visible public area that is readily accessible to, and widely used, by students.

In New Jersey, any person having reasonable cause to believe that a child has been subjected to abuse or acts of abuse is required to immediately report this information to the Department of Children and Families’ State Central Registry.

In 2012, almost a quarter of all reports of abuse and neglect came from schools, according to data from DCF. People who report abuse and neglect in good faith are protected from civil and criminal liability.

The bill was released from committee by a vote of 5-0, and next heads to the full Senate for further consideration.