When a child is abducted, the first few hours are absolutely critical in the recovery process. The state a Assembly Education Committee has approved a bill that would require parents to notify the school when their child is absent.

Assembly Deputy Conference Leader Scott Rumana is the bill's primary sponsor, which also stipulates that school officials must contact a parent if a student is absent without prior notification to the school.

Known as Tabitha's Law" the bipartisan bill is named for a Tennessee teenager who, in 2003, did not attend school one day, unbeknownst to her parents. The school did not contact Tabitha's parents regarding her absence and they did not become aware she was missing until 4:45 p.m. that day. Tabitha Tudor remains missing to this day.

"Tabitha's Law will help ensure the safety of our children by improving the flow of communication between parents and school officials," said Rumana, R-Passaic, Bergen and Essex. "Unexplained absences can be the first sign of a bigger problem which can be addressed by being proactive. There are many instances of child abductions throughout the country that cause grief for families, schools and communities. Reacting quickly to an unexplained absence can avert a tragedy and the heartache that everyone feels when they hear a story like Tabitha's."

Assemblyman Pat Diegnan (D-18) says the first few hours are really the most critical, "I think this is really a simple, direct, common-sense piece of legislation that can absolutely save lives."

The bill requires parents to notify school administrators whenever their child will be absent from school, and requires administrators to contact parents whenever a pupil is absent without the parent's having provided prior notice. The first few hours of a child abduction are the most vital to the recovery process. Tabitha's Law is intended to help provide an early warning trigger during that critical time.