Legislation sponsored by Senator Anthony Bucco (R-25) and Senator Kristin Corrado (R-40) that would require all public school employees to undergo a Child Abuse Record Information (CARI) background check has passed the Senate Education Committee.
Legislation sponsored by Senator Bucco and Senator Corrado would require CARI background checks for all public school employees. (©iStock)
“How many of our teachers, camp counselors, cafeteria workers, and school employees have histories of child abuse?” Senator Bucco asked. “The scary truth is that under New Jersey’s current laws, we just don’t know. We should learn the answer to that question before something bad happens. We must require all school employees who have regular contact with students to undergo CARI checks.”
The legislation, S-1129, would require CARI checks for any new employee in the positions that are currently subjected to criminal background checks. Additionally, the bill would mandate that the Department of Children and Families (DCF) create a five-year timeline to complete CARI checks on all school employees.
Currently, New Jersey law requires the Department of Children and Families to maintain an up-to-date statewide Child Abuse Registry. This register contains the names of offenders whom the DCF or Family court has made a finding of child abuse or neglect. Offenders are only placed on the CARI list if the claims of child abuse have been substantiated.
Research has shown that children between the ages of 7 and 13 are most vulnerable to child sexual assault and according to a National Institute of Justice report, 3 out of 4 children were sexually assaulted by someone they knew.
“Over the past few years we’ve seen too many times that abominable individuals who abuse children are real,” Senator Corrado said. “We’ve failed to properly screen the teachers and coaches that we trust to keep our students safe. Requiring CARI checks on all school employees places the security of our children first.”
The legislation now heads to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee for review.
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