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Guest Column from State Representative Bill Hayes: Protecting our Children in the Age of Technology

February 29, 2016
Republican Newsroom

In the ever evolving age of technology, society has reaped many benefits from having the world at our fingertips. While the Internet age has promoted tremendous achievement for individuals, small businesses, large corporations and beyond, there are still many dangers posed by this technological revolution.

One of the most appalling uses for the Internet has unfortunately become the solicitation of our children. The ability to hide behind a screen and prey on the curiosity of the innocent is an egregious act that is done far too easily in today’s day and age.

It was recently brought to the attention of the Ohio Legislature that some of these child predators are able to get off with simply a slap on the hand from our judicial system. As lawmakers, this was clearly a loophole that needed to be addressed quickly.

As a result, the Ohio House recently passed House Bill 405, which creates stricter penalties on individuals who solicit our most vulnerable generation. This legislation establishes a mandatory prison sentence for soliciting a child younger than 13 years old to engage in sexual activity.

During committee, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office testified that since 2009 the Franklin County Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC) has arrested more than 100 individuals in the central Ohio area for engaging in solicitation.

Since law enforcement was typically the one posing as a minor in this instance, most of the offenders were simply sentenced to probation. This allows the child predator to go back to their computer and continue soliciting minors, maybe just a little more cautiously. By imposing a six-month minimum prison sentence for these criminals, we are able to ensure that the efforts of our law enforcement are in fact beneficial to protecting our children.

House Bill 405 makes the Internet safer for our unsuspecting youth so that as parents we are able to have an added layer of protection for our kids. I was proud to co-sponsor and vote in favor of this legislation, and am hopeful to see it pass the Ohio Senate and enacted into law.