Legislation proposed at the Capitol would give a voice to kids who witness domestic violence. Chuck Golden is an investigator with the River Falls police department. He’s been working on the issue since 2008, when a three month old infant suffered a broken arm in a domestic violence incident. The bill would require a judge consider a child’s presence in sentencing domestic violence offenders. Golden said that’s often not the case now. “Oftentimes if a child is not injured, but was present during the commission of an act of domestic violence, the child is often forgotten,” Golden told a Senate committee.
The bill from state Senator Sheila Harsdorf (R-River Falls) doesn’t include any penalty enhancers — but judges would be required to consider the presence of a child as an “aggravating factor” at sentencing. Children, Golden said, have no choices regarding their caregivers. “It may not even be brought up that a child was present during an act of domestic violence. Maybe the person has three or four different charges that he or she is facing, and that was never brought up,” he said. Golden told the committee that 22 other states and Puerto Rico have such laws already in place.