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Experts Debunk Myths About Online Youth Victimization
PLAINFIELD -- Gov. Rod Blagojevich took the final step in making it illegal for anyone over 17 years old to conduct illicit conversations with minors over the Internet.
The law, which was initiated by state Rep. Tom Cross, R-Oswego, cleared the House and Senate months ago.
Now, those who engage in sexually-explicit conversation with a minor over the Internet will face Class 4 felony charges, which Cross said he hopes will curb Internet predators.
"This is an important step in continuing to keep our children safe from Internet predators and others who use chat sites as a way to befriend minors," Cross said. "These types of crimes are growing trends in communities all over the state. We have to put these laws in place to allow authorities to seek and prosecute criminals who are skilled in using computer technology to gain access to children."
House Bill 2858 is part of Rep. Cross' Social Networking Web site Safety Legislative Package, which also includes a bill allowing schools to discipline students who make harmful threats over the Internet and a bill that would enhance the penalty for making online death threats.
Cross, who has two children, said in a May 30 Sun-Times News Group column that he sponsored the bill to ease parents' worries.
"As our children continue to grow, my wife and I have encouraged them to become proficient in the use of computers," he wrote. "Now we worry about the types of people they may encounter when they use social-networking Web sites like MySpace and Facebook."
Shows like Dateline NBC's "To Catch A Predator" have brought the issue of Internet predators into the limelight through its series of programs targeted at the online solicitation of minors.
Others groups looking to protect minors from Internet predators include Perverted Justice, an activist group out of Portland, Ore., which uses volunteers posing as teens to gather information about pedophiles.
Sen. A.J. Wilhelmi, D-Joliet, worked with Cross to pass the bill. Kendall County State's Attorney Eric Weis, Oswego Police Chief Dwight Baird, Will County State's Attorney Jim Glasgow, and area library and school officials also are credited for their support, Cross said.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
IL - New law to protect minors online
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