HARRISBURG – Domestic abusers who commit acts of violence in front of children would face tougher penalties under legislation approved by the Senate Wednesday, according to Senator Scott Martin (R-13), who supported the measure.
Senate Bill 1092 provides for a sentence enhancement within the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing’s guidelines for simple and aggravated assault in domestic violence cases.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 24 states and Puerto Rico already address in statute the issue of children who witness domestic violence in their homes.
“Domestic violence not only impacts the direct victims of the crime, but also creates a lasting negative impression on children who are forced to witness the abuse,” Martin said. “It is critical to ensure abusers who commit their crimes in front of children face a punishment that fits the truly heinous nature of the offense.”
Studies suggest that half of domestic violence crimes were committed in the presence of at least one child. The short-term impact on children can include increased anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, aggression, difficulty concentrating, social isolation, and lack of empathy.
Under Senate Bill 1092, sentences would vary based on the severity and circumstances of the crime.
Passage of Senate Bill 1092 follows March’s Senate passage of a crime victims’ package targeting domestic abuse. The bill will be sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.
The legislation is the result of the work of the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association and Cabrini College’s Center for Children of Trauma and Domestic Violence Education.
CONTACT: Terry Trego (717) 787-6535