Mensch Bill Increasing Penalties for Domestic Violence Committed in Front of Children Signed into Law

Harrisburg – Legislation sponsored by Sen. Bob Mensch (R-24) increasing penalties for domestic violence when it is committed in front of children was signed into law today.

Senate Bill 1092 makes an occurrence of domestic violence in front of children a sentencing enhancement for the offenses of simple and aggravated assault. Simple and Aggravated Assault are the two most commonly charged offenses for acts of domestic violence.

Although children are less likely than women to be direct victims of domestic violence, they are often present when violence occurs, Mensch noted. One in 10 children in the U.S. are exposed to domestic violence, and the majority of them are under six years old.

“The short-term consequences of a child witnessing this violence include increased anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, aggression, difficulty concentrating, social isolation and lack of empathy,” said Mensch. “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.”

The new law was the result of the joint efforts of the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association and Cabrini College’s Center for Children of Trauma and Domestic Violence Education.

“The data is clear that when a perpetrator commits an act of violence in front of a child, there is more than one victim. The child suffers many of the same consequences as if he or she had been the direct victim,” Mensch said. “My expectation for this legislation is that it helps to end the vicious cycle of domestic violence found in our society.”

Senate Bill 1092 was approved by the Senate in May and passed the House of Representatives on October 16.

For more information on Senator Mensch’s legislation, visit www.senatormensch.com.  State updates can also be found on Senator Mensch’s Facebook at www.facebook.com/senatormensch, or Twitter @SenatorMensch

CONTACT: Mark Fetzko mfetzko@pasen.gov 717-787-3110