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Public Statements

Issue Position: Protecting Kids

Issue Position

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Issue Position: Protecting Kids

Overview

* We must eliminate the threat of physical and sexual abuse of children by passing tough laws that give our law enforcement and prosecutors the tools they need to keep child predators off the streets.
* Although I consider myself to be a strong and unwavering supporter of our constitutional rights, there is no room in our society for child pornography. We have a responsibility to ensure that law enforcement authorities have the tools they need to immediately end such exploitation.
* There are other materials-violent video games, sexually explicit television programs, and others-that are not appropriate for children of all ages, but for which censorship is prohibited under our Constitution. For those materials, I believe we must provide parents the tools they need to make decisions as to what type of material is appropriate for their children.

There is no question that we have an obligation to protect our children. Fulfilling this responsibility has become increasingly difficult in a world where technological innovation has opened children's doors and minds to a largely uncensored world—in many cases before those young minds have the ability to make judgment calls as to who should be considered a friend, and what behavior is appropriate.

First and foremost we must make sure that every parent fulfills his or her child support responsibilities. Our kids should not be left hungry or homeless because their parents refuse to provide them with the money they need for survival. That is why I have recently signed on as a cosponsor to the Child Support Protection Act (H.R. 1386), which would reinstitute federal matching funds allocated to state child support enforcement agencies that have proven successful at collecting child support.

Protecting our kids also means eliminating the threat of physical and sexual abuse of children. That is why I voted for the Children's Safety and Violent Crime Reduction Act of 2006 (H.R. 4472) in the 109th Congress. The bill, which has been signed into law, created a National Sex Offender Registry with uniform standards for the registration of sex offenders, including a lifetime registration requirement for the most serious offenders. It requires states to maintain sex offender registries accessible to the public on the internet, and makes the failure to register a felony. Under the law, sex offenders are required to provide DNA samples and are subjected to more frequent, in-person verification of information about their residences and workplaces. The law also authorizes eighty-eight new U.S. Prosecutors for prosecution of child sex offenses. I have also supported federal initiatives to provide money to help states prevent child abuse, including the Keeping Families and Children Safe Act.

Although I consider myself to be a strong and unwavering supporter of our constitutional right to freedom of speech and free expression, there is no room in our society for child pornography, period. This exploitation often carries physical evidence of sexual abuse. We have a responsibility to ensure that law enforcement authorities have the tools they need to immediately end such exploitation. I have consistently supported legislation that would toughen penalties and update enforcement mechanisms for those individuals guilty of producing or possessing child pornography, including the following measures in the 110th Congress:

* The PROTECT our Children Act of 2007 (H.R. 3845), which would the appoint a Special Counsel for Child Exploitation Prevention and Interdiction, establish an Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, establish a National Internet Crimes Against Children Data Network Center to assist in investigation and prosecuting child exploitation, and require the establishment of additional forensic capacity to address backlogs. The legislation also authorizes funding for additional agents for investigating child pornography offenses.
* The Effective Pornography Prosecution Act of 2007 (H.R. 4120) which would expand the federal government's power to prosecute individuals guilty of producing or possessing child pornography by expanding the definition of crimes of sexual exploitation under the Federal Criminal Code.
* The Enhancing the Effective Prosecution of Child Pornography Act of 2007 (H.R. 4136), which amends the federal criminal code to: (1) include child pornography activities and the production of such pornography for importation into the U.S as predicate crimes for money laundering prosecutions; and (2) define accessing child pornography by computer visual depictions with the intent to view as a crime.
* The Keeping the Internet Devoid of Sexual Predators Act of 2007 (H.R. 719) (KIDS Act of 2007), which would authorize additional appropriations for FY2008-FY2013 to: (1) evaluate and purchase Internet filtering and monitoring programs and devices; (2) train probation officers in the use of such programs and devices and in the supervision of sex offenders; and (3) hire probation officers and other personnel as required to supervise convicted sex offenders effectively. It would also allow the implementation probation and supervised release conditions for convicted sex offenders that restrict and monitor offender access to the Internet, and would direct the U.S. Sentencing Commission to review its sentencing guidelines for sex offenses involving children where the offender's status as a sex offender is not revealed.
* The Intercept Child Predators Act (H.R. 3811), which would allow courts to issue wiretaps to investigate the exploitation of children.

There are other materials—violent video games, sexually explicit television programs, and others—that are not appropriate for children of all ages, but for which censorship is prohibited under our Constitution. As a parent, I can empathize with the difficulties many parents face in limiting their child's access to material they believe is inappropriate or dangerous. We must provide parents the tools they need to make decisions as to what type of material is appropriate for their children. I voted for the Safeguarding America's Families by Enhancing and Reorganizing New and Efficient Technologies Act of 2007 (H.R. 3461), which requires the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to carry a nationwide program to increase public awareness and education regarding Internet safety. The bill also would establish a national outreach and education campaign and grants to establish and maintain programs to educate children and parents on the best way to be safe using the internet. I also support the institution of accurate ratings for the content of video games and television programs so that parents can have an accurate idea of the adult quantity of the materials before allowing their children to bring it home.


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