Legislation would increase protection to 17 year-olds.
Another bill aimed at protecting California’s youth from predators passed the Assembly’s Public Safety Committee. AB 2523, authored by Assemblywoman Sharon Runner will expand protections currently offered to children age 14 and under to include those who are age 17 and under.
According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, a 2005 study of online victimization of youth found that 81 percent of youth targeted for sexual solicitations were 14 years of age or older, none of which fall under the current age protected by the state
“AB 2523 is another necessary tool to aid law enforcement officials in fighting criminals who prey on unsuspecting children,” Runner said. “As a parent and grandparent, I believe it is our top priority to protect our children to the best of our ability and this legislation brings us another step closer to achieving that goal.”
Current state law makes child luring a crime, meaning that an adult stranger cannot communicate with a minor of 14 years of age or younger for the intent of luring that child away for any purpose. However, statistics demonstrate that older children are more at risk of coming into contact with a child predator.
AB 2523 will remedy this problem by increasing the age of children protected by state law to 17 years and under.
“With the widespread use of the Internet, it is easier for pedophiles to victimize children, especially high school students,” Runner explained. “Teenagers are more likely to be unsupervised when using the Internet and as a result, will be more involved in personal discussions with predators and have the means to meet them face-to-face.”
“By removing a predator’s access to innocent children via the Internet, this bill creates a common sense approach that will prevent further crimes and protect California’s children,” she continued.
The bill now goes to the Assembly Appropriations Committee for consideration.