Trenton – Senator Raymond Lesniak issue the following statement on Tuesday calling on the New Jersey Study Commission on Violence, formed by legislation he sponsored that also declared violence a public health crisis, to “sharpen its focus” on domestic violence:
“When I sponsored legislation declaring violence a public health crisis in New Jersey and creating the Study Commission on Violence, its impetus was the violence that we see too often, including the mass murders committed by deranged killers with automatic weapons in places such as Newtown, Aurora, Tucson and Columbine and the killings in our urban communities.
“In New Jersey, an average of one murder is committed every day.
“These tragedies are startling, but just as disturbing is the silent killer of domestic violence, which is the root cause of much of the violence in our society. In New Jersey, there are more than 70,000 domestic violence offenses reported to the police each year, with children involved or present during 31 percent of these offenses. Nationwide, the equivalent of 10,000 busloads of children end up in emergency rooms for violence-related injuries every year and 5,500 children are killed.
“The recent attention on NFL stars, Ray Rice’s cold cocking unconscious his then girlfriend and Adrian Peterson’s brutal beating of his sons, has shed a spotlight on domestic violence and child abuse as major contributors to the culture of violence in our society.
“The New Jersey Study Commission on Violence plans to hold public hearings throughout the state to address the public health crisis of violence, hearings that should include a sharpened focus on the causes and consequences of domestic violence.
“As much as universal background checks for gun sales and expanded community-based mental health treatment are needed to change the culture of violence, the study commission must also determine what is needed to treat the crisis of domestic violence.
“Reported incidents of domestic violence and child abuse are rarely first offenses. Most often, they are only the first time reported or first time caught by law enforcement. While an abuse victim oftentimes becomes an abuser, that is not a free pass to victimize others. Abuse victims turned abusers need help to break their continuum of violence, along with penalties that fit their crimes.
“Declaring violence a public heath crisis in New Jersey was needed to focus attention on the pervasive problem of violence in society. The study commission should sharpen that focus on domestic violence and child abuse.”