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TRENTON, NJ (CAP) - New Jersey Senate Majority Leader Barbara Buono (D, 18th District) has introduced a bill to the state senate which would redefine the terms of the state's current child abuse and neglect laws.
Under the proposed law, the definition of neglect would be expanded and grant the state the right to investigate parents who were found not to have a sufficient number of photos of their children available through their Facebook, Flickr, or other photo-sharing accounts.
Buono says she was inspired to draft the bill after witnessing a troubling incident at her daughter's gymnastic meet in which a gymnast completed a near-perfect balance beam routine and her parents failed to record it.
"Today's technology makes it incredibly easy to document the important events in a child's life," said Buono. "You don't even need a separate camera or video, it's all built into your phone. So why aren't parents better utilizing it? This girl's parents, they were just ... just sitting there. Cheering. I was astounded; I was angered.
"How else is that poor girl going to remember such a monumental day?" Buono continued, visibly shaken. "How are those parents going to share that moment with their Facebook friends? They can't. So now, tell me, how is that girl ever going to know her parents are proud of her? Every child deserves at least that."
The proposed legislation is not without controversy. As debate continues over what constitutes sufficient documentation, civil liberties groups have already condemned the bill for encroaching on the rights of the individual.
Spokesman for the New Jersey chapter of the ACLU, David Britton, says the government is overstepping its boundaries and as such, the organization is prepared to file a lawsuit against the state should the bill be signed into law.
"Sure, parents could spend the course of their child's T-ball game snapping pictures and taking videos, fiddling with batteries and camera settings and all that," Britton said in a recent interview with CAP News. "But what about the parents who don't want to miss that moment, that wonderful moment when they finally have time to send a text or a Tweet or make a phone call?
"Have you ever sat through a T-ball game?" Britton continued. "It's boring as hell. The fact that the government thinks it can force you to watch and take pictures throughout is absurd."
Parents appear to be divided on the issue as well. Melissa Gallagher, a mother of three from Newark, says she thinks the bill is long overdue.
"My friend took her family to Disney World last fall and barely took any pictures," said Gallagher. "She said she was too busy doing to be recording.
"It breaks my heart for those children," Gallagher continued, breaking down in tears. "They have nothing to remember it by. Nothing."
Debbie Vance, mother of two, disagreed. "My son's hockey game is when I call my sister in Arizona," she said. "Why should I have to get off the phone to take pictures? Ridiculous."
The senate is expected to vote on the measure before a spring recess in April.
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