Getting tough on child predators

US Senator Jon Kyl

US Senator Jon Kyl

It was only a few short months ago that I wrote a column about the urgent need to pass legislation to help protect our children. I am pleased to announce that Congress acted swiftly on that legislation, and the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 is now law. John Walsh, the host of "America's Most Wanted," and also the father of Adam Walsh (who was murdered and for whom the bill was named), accurately described this bill as "the toughest piece of child protection legislation in 25 years." Disturbing news stories of child abuse and neglect continue to shock and horrify our nation, and I am hopeful this new law will provide law enforcement with the resources necessary to better protect children from predators. Among its many provisions, the new law will create the National Sex Offender Registry, which will include detailed information about sex offenders, including their name, address, employment, vehicle identification information, fingerprints, a DNA sample, complete criminal history, a recent photo, in addition to other information. A national website will also be available to the public that will provide relevant information about sex offenders in your community. Two of the law's major provisions stem from legislation I introduced earlier this year.

First, the Childhelp National Registry Act, will create a national registry of individuals who have been involved in substantiated cases of abuse or neglect of a child. The information will be compiled from state databases of child abuse, and will be made available to other states solely for the purpose of protecting children. This will ensure that abusive parents will no longer be able to hide from authorities simply by crossing state lines.--

The second of my bills that was included in the new law is the Internet Safety Act, which is intended to help fight the troubling rise of child pornography on the Internet. It will increase criminal penalties for those convicted of facilitating child pornography and provide enhanced federal resources for prosecution and prevention of child sexual abuse.

The measure specifically provides the Justice Department with 200 additional prosecutors across the country to prosecute child-pornography, sex-trafficking, and sexual-abuse offenses targeted at children.

It will also provide the Justice and Homeland Security Departments with more computer forensic examiners dedicated to investigating crimes involving the sexual exploitation of youth. And the measure will also create ten additional Internet Crimes Against Children Task Forces, to help bring online predators to justice.

Finally, I'd like to commend Childhelp, a Phoenix-based organization that has worked closely with lawmakers to help move this legislation through Congress. Organizations like Childhelp exist for the purpose of protecting children and serve as a constant reminder that we must always remain vigilant when it comes to protecting America's youth.

(Sen. Kyl, a Republican, serves on the Senate Finance and Judiciary committees and chairs the Republican Policy Committee. Visit his website at www.kyl.senate.gov.)

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