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McKnight Bill Providing Information on Counseling to Children Who Witness or Hear Domestic Violence Advances

Trenton – The Senate Health, Human Services, and Senior Citizens Committee advanced legislation today sponsored by Senator Angela V. McKnight that would provide information on counseling services for minor children who witness or hear incidents of domestic violence.

“Children who witness domestic violence are at a higher risk for long-term physical and mental health problems, and may be at a greater risk of being violent in their future,” said Senator McKnight (D-Hudson). “Early intervention through counseling can reduce a child’s mental anguish, teach coping mechanisms, and stop the cycle of abuse in the future.”

The bill, S-1774, would supplement the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991 to protect vulnerable youth from further harm by making counseling an available option for relief for children after witnessing or hearing a domestic violence incident.

Current law provides that once a domestic violence complaint is filed, the victim and the abuser are to be advised of any services available for advice or counseling. No requirement currently exists for minor children witnessing or hearing such an incident.

The bill would also expand the list of relief that a court could order to include requiring a defendant to undergo a psychological evaluation and counseling for any minor children who witnessed or heard an act of domestic violence.

The bill cleared committee in an 8-0 vote.