NJ considers establishing task force on campus sex assaults

 New Jersey Sen. Sandra Cunningham, D-Hudson, discusses a proposal for a task forces to address sex assaults on  campus. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

New Jersey Sen. Sandra Cunningham, D-Hudson, discusses a proposal for a task forces to address sex assaults on campus. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

Representatives of four New Jersey colleges are expected Monday to update the Senate Education Committee on what they’re doing about campus sexual assaults and how they’re working to prevent those crimes.

Sen. Sandra Cunningham, D-Hudson, said the committee is considering legislation that would create a task force to examine how to better protect the students.

“We really need to know specifically how prevalent is it; how is it being handled when it occurs; what are we doing for the victim; what are we doing about the perpetrator,” she said.

Victims are reluctant to report the attacks or bring in the police and the task force will examine how to deal with that, Cunningham said.

“So that people will report it,” she said. “That’s the only way that we’re going to try to resolve this is people who create these acts have to be caught, have to be punished, and people who it happens to have to be given the protection that they need.”

One of the 12 members of the task force would be a campus sexual assault survivor.

“I think it’s very important for the other people on the panel to really understand what the psychological and physical dangers were when people are subjected to sexual assault,” she added.

The state Assembly voted unanimously in June to create the task force. If the full Senate and Gov. Chris Christie also approve it, the panel would have a year to issue guidelines.

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