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Senate Approves Child Health and Protection Measures

This week, the Senate passed several measures addressing child health and protection, including resolutions to designate “National Cancer Awareness Day” and “National Internet Safety Month,” the Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act (S. 1965), the KIDS Act (S. 431), and the Protecting Our Children Comes First Act (H.R. 2517).

Childhood Cancer Resolution

On May 22, the Senate passed, by unanimous consent, S. Res. 563, a resolution to establish “National Cancer Awareness Day.” The resolution would designate September 13, 2008, as “National Childhood Cancer Awareness Day.” The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the measure on May 22. The House approved a similar resolution (H. Res. 470) in September (see The Source, 9/28/07). The House Energy and Commerce Committee also passed The Caroline Pryce Walker Conquer Childhood Cancer Act of 2008 (H.R. 1553) on May 7 (see The Source, 5/9/08).

Sponsored by Sen. Wayne Allard (R-CO), the resolution contains a number of findings, including:

  •  more than 10,000 children under the age of 15 in the United States are diagnosed with cancer annually;
  •  every year more than 1,400 children under the age of 15 in the United States lose their lives to cancer;
  •  childhood cancer is the number one disease killer and the second overall leading cause of death of children in the United States;
  •  the five-year survival rate for children with cancer has increased from 56 percent in 1974 to 79 percent in 2000, representing significant improvement from previous decades; and
  •  cancer occurs regularly and randomly and spares no racial or ethnic group, socioeconomic class, or geographic region.The resolution “requests that the federal government, states, localities, and nonprofit organizations observe the day with appropriate programs and activities, with the goal of increasing public knowledge of the risks of cancer; and recognizes the human toll of cancer and pledges to make its prevention and cure a public health priority.”

    National Internet Safety Month

    The same day, the Senate passed, by unanimous consent, S. Res. 567, a bill to designate June as “National Internet Safety Month.”

    Sponsored by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), the resolution contains a number of findings, including:

  •  in the United States, 35 million children in kindergarten through grade 12 have Internet access;
  •  approximately 67 percent of students in grades five through 12 do not share with their parents what they do on the Internet;
  •  approximately 31 percent of the students in grades five through 12 have the skill to circumvent Internet filter software;
  •  61 percent of the students admit to using the Internet unsafely or inappropriately;
  •  12 percent of middle school and high school students have met face-to-face with someone they first met online; and
  •  61 percent of parents want to be more personally involved with Internet safety.The measure “recognizes [that]…‘National Internet Safety Month’ provides the citizens of the United States with an opportunity to learn about the dangers of Internet, and the importance of being safe and responsible online; commends and recognizes national and community organizations for promoting awareness of the dangers of the Internet, and providing information and training that develops critical thinking and decision-making skills that are needed to use the Internet safely; and calls on Internet safety organizations, law enforcement, educators, community leaders, parents, and volunteers to increase their efforts to raise the level of awareness for the need for online safety in the United States.”

    Internet Safety

    The Senate also approved, by unanimous consent, the Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act (S. 1965). The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee approved the measure on September 27 (see The Source, 9/28/07); the committee also held a hearing on the issue on July 24 (see The Source, 7/27/07). The House passed a similar version of the bill (H.R. 3461) on November 13 (see The Source, 11/16/07).

    The KIDS Act

    On May 20, the Senate approved, by unanimous consent, the Keeping the Internet Devoid of Sexual Predators (KIDS) Act (S. 431). The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the measure on December 13 (see The Source, 12/14/07). The House approved a similar bill (H.R. 719) on November 13 (see The Source, 11/16/07).

    The Protecting Our Children Comes First Act

    On May 20, the Senate passed, by unanimous consent, the Protecting Our Children Comes First Act of 2007 (H.R. 2517), clearing the measure for the president’s signature. The House passed the bill on December 5 (see The Source, 12/7/07).

    Bill sponsor Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) said, “It pains us all to see photo after photo of missing children from all around our country. As a father and grandfather, I can imagine that an abducted child is any parent’s worst nightmare. Unfortunately, it is a nightmare that happens all too often. These families need the assistance of the American people and a helping hand from Congress. I am proud that Congress has also realized its obligation to our nation’s children by passing the Protecting Our Children Comes First Act…It is important to act now to extend its authorization so that it can continue to help keep children safe and families intact around our nation.”

    Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) stated, “I joined Sen. Leahy in introducing this legislation last July, and it is now on its way to the president to be signed into law. This legislation reauthorizes funding for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The collective expertise of the Center has been invaluable in efforts to address child exploitation, and this bill will ensure that their vital work will continue.”

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