New Jersey has a new law that requires all schools to post information about the state child abuse hotline in their buildings starting this fall.

“It’s an additional tool for children if they’re suffering abuse and neglect at home or elsewhere. They will then have the information themselves and can make the phone call,” said Christine Norbut Beyer, commissioner of the state Department of Children and Families.

She pointed out if a child knows or suspects a friend or classmate is being abused, “they can then call the hotline themselves. All calls are confidential.”

She said the idea is to empower children and make sure they’re protected.

“When they call the number they have a qualified screener that they’re speaking to who can then ask them questions to gather the information, whether it’s about themselves or whether it’s about a friend," she explained.

Beyer noted it may also be a situation where a teacher in a school is acting inappropriately.

State Sen. Shirley Turner, D-Mercer, a prime sponsor of the legislation, said many times children are afraid to report abuse, so if the information is on a bulletin board at school, “they may be more inclined and feel more comfortable reporting it to someone anonymously.”

She noted children can become scarred for life because of what happens to them in early childhood.

The new law requires the Department of Children and Families’ State Central Registry Hotline number — 1-877-NJ-ABUSE — to be prominently displayed in each school of every district in New Jersey.

The information to be displayed must also give instructions to call 911 for emergencies, and include directions for accessing the Department’s website or social media platforms to get more information on reporting abuse, neglect and exploitation of children.

In New Jersey, anyone having reasonable cause to believe a child is being abused is required by law to report it.

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