TRENTON, NJ — A bill sponsored by Assemblyman Edward "Ned" Thomson (R-Monmouth/Ocean) that increases the penalties for failing to report child sexual abuse has been signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy.

The measure (S641/A850) requires those who believe a child has been sexually abused to immediately report it to the state Division of Child Protection and Permanency.

Failure to report the sexual abuse is now a fourth-degree crime with penalties up to 18 months in prison and a $1,000 fine. Until now, it was only a disorderly person’s offense that could result in up to six months in prison and a fine up to $1,000.

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Research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that approximately one in six boys and one in four girls are sexually abused before age 18.

“Child abuse affects 1.8 million children between the ages of 12 and 19 in this country,” said Thomson, whose district includes Belmar and Lake Como. “The statistics are shocking. Raising the penalty for not reporting these crimes will better protect our children, and that is the key here.” 

“It is everyone's responsibility to fight abuse and neglect,” said Assemblywoman Nancy F. Munoz (R-Union), who also sponsored the measure. “A child's life may depend on someone reporting it."