Stay up to date on Beau's work as Attorney General.
Delaware First News: Bill aims to strengthen child abuse laws in Delaware
Recently introduced legislation seeks to put additional emphasis on child abuse cases in Delaware. If approved by the General Assembly, Senate Bill 234, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Patricia Blevins (D-Elsmere), would classify child abuse as a separate crime in the state and toughen penalties in some child abuse cases.
State lawmakers and officials discuss SB 234 – legislation that would make child abuse a stand alone crime.
“Assaults against children are different than assaults against adults,” said Sen. Blevins. “So, it is important to make this a standalone crime.”
Attorney General Beau Biden (D), who spearheaded the legislation, said Wednesday the need for addressing child abuse separately from adults is borne out by current statistics. Biden pointed out that more than three million children are reported to be victims of abuse or neglect in the United States each year, and the U.S. ranks higher in child abuse fatalities than any other industrialized nation in the world. Biden also noted that a child who is abused or neglected is 59 percent more likely to be arrested as a juvenile, 28 percent more likely to be arrested as an adult, and 30 percent more likely to commit a violet crime.
“Far too many children are the victims of abuse, neglect and assault and [this bill] will go a long way to better protect the children of this state,” said Biden.
Currently, child abuse cases are prosecuted under the statute dealing with assault by abuse or neglect—which also applies to adult victims—or with charges of endangering the welfare of a child. The bill would create three levels of child abuse in the state. First and second degree child abuse would each be felonies and there would be stronger penalties when the victim is under four years old or has significant intellectual or developmental disabilities.
“We know children are three times more likely to be assaulted, hurt or harmed if they have a developmental disability or are under four years old,” said Biden. “We wanted to recognize a very vulnerable victim pool.”