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Attorney General Josh Stein Announces SAFE Child Act to Protect Children

Release date: 3/7/2019

Stein also unveils guidance for organizations that serve children to prevent abuse
(RALEIGH) Attorney General Josh Stein today announced the SAFE Child Act, sponsored by Sens. Danny Britt, Kathy Harrington, and Jay Chaudhuri and Reps. John Faircloth, Dennis Riddell, and Brian Turner. This legislation, formally called the Sexual Assault Fast reporting and Enforcement Act, will increase reporting requirements for people who observe abuse of children, extend the statute of limitations for criminal and civil child abuse claims, bar high-risk sex offenders from contacting minors on social media, and allow prosecutors to use grand juries to investigate claims of abuse of children.

“Our first job as parents and as a state is to keep our kids safe,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “This legislation will increase enforcement tools to make sure abuse is reported and prosecuted—which will allow more victims to see justice and put more abusers behind bars.”

“The right for child abusers to wait out the statute of limitations, and leave their emotionally damaged victims with no criminal recourse is going to end in NC,” said Sen. Danny Britt. “The scars of child abuse do not magically heal after two years, we have to give a child ample time to realize they may have been abused and summon the courage to seek justice.”

“I am pleased to be working with the Attorney General’s office, members of the NC Senate and members of the NC House on this important legislation,” said Rep. Dennis Riddell. “The reforms proposed in this bill will help unmask child predators previously unknown to the public and provide the innocent victims of childhood sexual abuse an overdue stronger voice in North Carolina. These necessary measures will help us better protect our children by preventing additional child sexual abuse here in North Carolina.”

“Child safety and bringing predators to justice should be a priority for us all so I am proud to be a part of this bipartisan effort to protect the children in our communities,” said Rep. Brian Turner.

“As a father and a former Special Counsel at the North Carolina Department of Justice, I believe there is nothing more important than protecting our children from harm,” said Sen. Jay Chaudhuri. “Too often, we know stories or read stories about child abuse crimes. In many instances, we discover that these crimes go unreported for years. The SAFE Child Act tackles this problem head on by giving prosecutors the tools they need and broadening the reporting requirement for institutions and adults who suspect such a crime. It is my sincere hope that we pass the SAFE Child Act as soon as possible.”

In addition to the legislation, Attorney General Stein also announced that he has, in consultation with child advocates and other experts, developed best practices for organizations that serve children. This document includes guidance on how to develop policies that prevent abuse, how to handle disclosures of abuse and work alongside investigators, and how to work with community partners to support victims and protect children. More information is available here and here.

“Children’s Advocacy Centers of North Carolina would like to offer its support of and thanks to Attorney General Josh Stein for his notable work with the development of the SAFE Child Act which seeks to bring about change for victims of child abuse in North Carolina,” said Deana Joy, Executive Director, Children’s Advocacy Centers of NC.

Laura Brewer (919) 716-6484

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