Bill Approved To Protect Children From Internet Predators
North Carolina will be able to stop Internet predators from going after children under a new law that was given final approval by the General Assembly last week and signed into law by Governor Mike Easley on Wednesday. The new law will go into effect on December 1, 2005.
Senate Bill 472, "The Child Exploitation Prevention Act," will allow law enforcement officers to go online undercover to catch child sexual predators who use the Internet and will authorize the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) to use additional technology to investigate certain crimes committed with the use of a computer. Under current law, a predator who solicits an officer posing as a minor could only be charged with a misdemeanor. The measure will also require convicted online predators to be added to the state's Sex Offender Registry and to provide DNA samples for the state's convicted offender database.
A national survey conducted by the Crime Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire found that almost one in five young Internet users have received an unwanted sexual solicitation. Incidents of child sexual exploitation reported in North Carolina continue to rise. In 2001, there were only 11 incidents reported, however, 533 such incidents were reported in 2004 according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
All parents are encouraged to talk to their children about the potential dangers on the Internet and ways to protect themselves better from potentially dangerous individuals. The Attorney General's website at www.ncdoj.com (select "Internet Safety" from the Jump To menu at the top of the page) has helpful information on this topic including a video and resource guide for parents and children. Attorney General Cooper partnered with law enforcement and child safety experts including the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to develop the information.