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Senate Committee Approves Measures on Child Safety, Teen Dating Violence

Child Safety Measures

On December 13, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved, by voice vote, the Protect Our Children First Act (S.1829), the Keeping the Internet Devoid of Sexual Predators (KIDS) Act (S. 431), and the Internet Safety Education Act (S. 2344). The House approved bills similar to S. 1829 and S. 431 on November 13 and December 5 (see The Source, 11/16/07 and The Source, 12/7/07).

The Protect our Children First Act of 2007 (S. 1829) would reauthorize programs under the Missing Children’s Assistance Act (P.L. 98-473). The bill would authorize $20 million in FY2008, and “such sums as may be necessary” for each year FY2008-2013 to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). It also would authorize a “CyberTipline” for information related to child prostitution and child pornography, as well as “unsolicited obscene material sent to a child.”

The Keeping the Internet Devoid of Sexual Predators (KIDS) Act (S. 431), sponsored by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), would require convicted sex offenders to register online identifiers, such as e-mail and instant messaging addresses. In addition, S. 431 would require the attorney general to maintain a database that enables social networking web sites to compare the Internet identifiers of their registered users with those listed on the National Sex Offender Registry. S. 431 would guard networking sites from civil liability for screening its users.

Sponsored by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), the Internet Safety Education Act (S. 2344) would instruct the attorney general to create a competitive grant program to provide for Internet safety education programs for children. S. 2344 would authorize $10 million annually through 2012.

National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Week

The same day, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved, also by voice vote, S. Res. 388, a resolution designating the week of February 4 through February 8, 2008, as “National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Week.”

Sponsored by Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID), the resolution contains a number of findings, including:

  • one in three female teenagers in a dating relationship has feared for her physical safety;
  • twenty-nine percent of girls who have been in a relationship said that they have been pressured to have sex or to engage in sexual activities that they did not want;
  • technologies such as cell phones and the Internet have made dating abuse both more pervasive and more hidden;
  • violent relationships in adolescence can have serious ramifications for victims, putting them at higher risk for substance abuse, eating disorders, risky sexual behavior, suicide, and adult revictimization; and
  • the severity of violence among intimate partners has been shown to be greater in cases where the pattern of violence has been established in adolescence. The resolution encourages people of the United States, high schools, law enforcement, state and local officials, and interested groups to observe “National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Week” with appropriate programs and activities that promote awareness and prevention of the crime of teen dating violence in their communities.
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