New Legislation Addresses Sex Abuse Prevention and Awareness
Patricia Teffenhart, MPA, Executive Director, New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault, discusses the current system in NJ for handling sexual assault cases. Teffenhart also explalins a new legislation known as “Erin’s Law” which incorporates sexual abuse prevention and awareness education into NJ Student Learning Standards.
"Welcome to State of Affairs. I'm Steve Adubato. We're coming to you from the Agnes Varis NJTV Studio in Newark, New Jersey. Once again, we're joined by our friend Patricia Teffenhart, who is Executive Director of the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault. Good to see you Pat. Nice to have... nice to have you... oh my gosh. No it's great to have you. Thank you. Well thank you. [laughter] And while you're doing that, tell folks what the organization is. We'll put up your website right away. Yeah. We're the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault. We've been around since 1981. And we represent New Jersey's 21 county-based rape crisis centers, and the Rutgers University Office for Violence Prevention and Victim Assistance. And we are really busy right now. You know, I've asked you this before, I'm gonna ask you in a different way. Yeah? Is there more... are there more sexual assaults taking place? Or is there a whole societal, environmental thing going on where just there's more reporting of what is... what has been happening all along? Definitely more reporting of what's been happening. You know as I mentioned, we've been around since 1981. And I would argue that my predecessors were clamoring for opportunities to have interviews like this, or to have bills represented, representing survivors in the legislature. Sure. And now people are actually really paying attention, and... For real? Versus, "Hey, this is what we're doing right now." That's... "It's a bit of a fad." Which it's anything but that. That is an excellent question. I would... I don't have the answers. I just have the questions. [laughter] But seriously, do you see this potentially a year from now, "Hey, didn't we already do that thing?" So I would think if you had asked me this question a year ago, at the beginning of the Me Too movement, I might have been very skeptical. I quite honestly remain moderately skeptical. This is a really hot topic for people to make their name on right now, right? To write a good article on it. To introduce a good bill. To say they're on the right side of the issue is a lot easier than to actually be on the right side of the issue. Define the difference. So talking the talk means, you know, we're gonna introduce a whole bunch of conversations about policy reform. Walking the walk means actually engaging subject matter experts and then introducing the policies and moving them through the State House. And so I think there's an opportunity for us to walk the walk, but right now, currently there's a lot of talking going..."