Overdue legislation initiated by Senator Kevin O’Toole (R-Bergen, Essex, Morris, Passaic) for parents, school officials and authorities to instantly share when students may be missing, lost or abducted has been signed into law by Gov. Chris Christie.
“Community leaders and parents will now be required to take immediate, personal responsibility for the children they must care for and protect,” O’Toole said. “Just a few seconds of accountability can be enough to save lives and solve abductions.”
Senator O’Toole’s S-721, known as “Tabitha’s Law,” requires parents to notify school administrators whenever their child will be absent from school, and, in turn, requires administrators to contact parents whenever a pupil is absent without the parents having provided prior notice.
Tabitha’s Law is named for a 13-year-old missing Nashville girl who was absent for school in 2003. Parents, and in turn law enforcement, did not know Tabitha Tudor was missing that school day because school officials did not alert anyone. Authorities say as a result they lost an entire first day, which is critical to a search effort. Senator O’Toole first introduced this measure in January 2006.
“The first few hours of child abductions are the most vital to the investigatory and recovery process,” O’Toole concluded. “In Tabitha’s name, New Jersey law enforcement officers will be signaled the instant that care takers recognize a warning sign.”