Legislation to punish perpetrators of domestic violence - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

State lawmakers propose tougher legislation to punish perpetrators of domestic violence

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Survivors of domestic abuse often suffer both physical and emotional pain but the damage doesn't always end there.

A group of state leaders says they want to put a stop to all of it.

The 2014 legislative session starts Tuesday.

One executive committee plans to introduce tougher laws targeting abusers who commit those crimes in front of our youngest victims, innocent children.

A child doesn't necessarily have to be beaten to be abused.

Children who witness domestic violence may suffer more damage than we realize.

Besides the emotional scars of abuse, it could cause biological damage to their young developing brains.

And during this year's legislative session, we'll hear new approaches to punish those who hurt kids.

Republican State Senator Deb Soholt said "if children are present and domestic abuse occurs, that we proposing that we would have an additional misdemeanor crime. We're actually suggesting jail time. The judges would have to determine what they want to do, but that we think it's not appropriate for children to be in that kind of stressful, violent environment."

"When children are under high stress environment, their brain matrix actually changes, and their frontal cortex, their thinking center of their brain... they have less connections, when they're under high stress environments," Soholt added.

Last summer, the committee which proposes these tougher punishments took a look at several factors affecting domestic violence survivors and how the law treats their abusers.

These lawmakers are expanding the definitions of abuse and domestic relationships.

And their hope is to tighten up the laws so criminals can't slip through any loopholes.

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