(TRENTON) - Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Marlene Caride and Eliana Pintor Marin to help the state protect vulnerable populations from the practice known as predatory alienation was signed into law on Monday.
Predatory alienation usually involves the use of extreme undue influence, coercive persuasion or psychologically damaging manipulation that results in physical or emotional harm or the loss of financial assets, disrupts a parent-child relationship, leads to a deceptive or exploitative relationship, or isolates a person from family and friends.
"Predatory alienation is a type of coercive control that is often seen in domestic violence, human trafficking, and financial scams involving vulnerable populations, particularly those with physical or mental disabilities," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "It is heartbreaking and devastating for the victims and needs to be understood better so we can more effectively combat it."
The new law (formerly A-4244) would require both the departments of Children and Families and Human Services to conduct a joint study and make recommendations concerning predatory alienation and its effects on young adults and senior citizens.
"Predatory alienation can destroy lives and many times it's done so in a way that victims, who are often helpless, do not even realize it's happening until it's too late," said Caride (D-Bergen/Passaic). "It needs to be studied carefully so we can help raise awareness and prevent some of our most vulnerable from falling victim."
"The best way to combat these heinous tactics is to empower populations that are particularly susceptible to them," said Pintor Marin (D-Essex). "In order to do that, we need to thoroughly examine the issue so we have concrete data that we can use as a guided strategy in deploying state resources to help those at risk."
Specifically, the new law calls on the study to examine:
- how online predators, human traffickers, con artists, gangs, cults, and other groups use predatory alienation to isolate young adults and senior citizens from their family and friends;
- the grooming practices used to target and control young adults;
- the high pressure tactics used in scams and exploitative relationships to manipulate, control, and take advantage of senior citizens;
- why young adults and senior citizens are vulnerable to predatory alienation;
- what young adults and senior citizens can do to protect themselves from predatory alienation; and
- any other information relative to the subject matter of the study.
Additionally, the law requires a report on the joint study's findings and recommendations to be submitted to the Governor and Legislature within six months. The law would expire 30 days following the submission of the report.
The bill was approved by the Assembly Human Services Committee chaired by Vainieri Huttle on March 20. It received final legislative approval by the Assembly, 74-0, on Thursday, March 23.