The Senate Majority recently issued a new report entitled, "Protecting Children in the Internet Age," that calls for aggressive measures to protect children throughout New York from the dangers posed by Internet predators, child pornography and child sexual abuse.
The report comes just days after a major international child pornography ring was uncovered involving more than 2,360 suspects in 77 countries, with news that the FBI is now investigating approximately 600 suspects in the United States. The report also comes amid a dramatic expansion of networking and video sharing sites such as MySpace.com and YouTube.com, which present additional challenges to parents seeking to monitor their children’s activities on the Internet.
The report recommends passage of a comprehensive series of measures that will:
* Toughen penalties for promoting child prostitution or producing child pornography;
* Crack down on child sexual predators in Internet chat rooms;
* Establish stiff penalties for predators that use computers to commit sex offenses;
* Support training for law enforcement in the area of computer exploitation of children;
* Strengthen the sex offender registry; and
* Establish Internet Service Provider Warnings, among many others.
The Task Force report highlights a number of growing problems related to the spread of child pornography, which is now estimated to be a $3 billion a year enterprise. The possession or distribution of child pornography is illegal under federal and State law, but many law enforcement officials have found these crimes to be increasing at an alarming rate, fueled largely by the rapid growth in the use of the Internet and modern technologies.
The report also highlights the strong link between child pornography possessors and individuals who sexually victimize children. A recent study found that fifty-five percent of those arrested for child pornography possession have sexually abused or tried to sexually abuse children. Because of this strong correlation, the report emphasizes the importance of cracking down on child pornography as a critical part of any overall strategy to keep children safe from sexual offenses.
The following bills already have been introduced in the Senate, and would complement the recommendations set forth in the report: establish the crime of human trafficking (S.78); elevate severity of penalties for patronizing a prostitute and permitting prostitution involving children (S.320); create crime of exploitive child modeling or employment in any medium including on the website (S.147); prohibit employment of minors under 16 in exhibition engaging in sexual conduct harmful to minors (S.273); and establish the crimes of attempting to lure or entice a child (S.1761).
The Senate also passed Senate bill S.3318 will authorize the civil commitment of certain sexually violent predators at a secure treatment facility after they’ve completed their prison sentence in order to protect the public from criminals likely to commit repeated acts of sexual violence. The bill reflects an agreement by the Senate, the Assembly, and the Governor. Under the bill, sex offenders will be referred to a case review team to determine if the offender has a mental abnormality that will make them likely to be a repeat offender. If so, the case will go to the Attorney General to file a petition for confinement in the county of incarceration. If after a trial, a jury confirms the findings of the case review team, a judge will determine the most appropriate course of action, either confinement for the most dangerous offenders or a program of strict and intensive supervision for those who pose a lesser risk.