Warren: Child witnesses of abuse deserve our protection

HARRISBURG, Oct. 17 – A bill that would allow judges to order tougher sentences for abusers who commit their crime in front of a child passed the General Assembly today and will head to the governor for his signature, said state Rep. Perry Warren, who voted for the measure today.

Senate Bill 1092 was generated from the efforts of the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association – including from the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office – and Cabrini College’s Center for Children of Trauma and Domestic Violence Education. Democrat Warren and his Republican colleagues Reps. Frank Farry and Kate Harper jointly introduced the House version of the bill.

One study found that half of domestic violence crimes were committed in the presence of at least one child.

“When someone commits an act of violence in front of a child, that child is also victimized and the perpetrator should answer to that offense,” Warren said. “I commend all my colleagues in the House for passing this legislation, as this bill was unanimously approved.”

“When a child sees a family member hit another loved one, that moment can stay with a child throughout his or her lifetime,” Farry said. “That trauma can sadly manifest itself into other at-risk behavior years down the road. It’s time to put in place tougher penalties that would reduce these instances and better protect children.”

There is a devastating impact on children who witness domestic violence. The short-term consequences include increased anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, aggression, difficulty concentrating, social isolation and lack of empathy. The long-term consequences are similarly troubling. Additionally, when these affected children grow up they are more likely to engage in dangerous behavior and are more likely to be caught up in a vicious cycle of abuse; they become an abuser or an abused person themselves.

“We got this one right," Warren said. “The bill will help protect children from domestic abuse, and I look forward to the governor signing this bill into law.”