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State AG Calls for Changes to Fight Child Predators

Posted May 10, 2007

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— State Attorney General Roy Cooper testified Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee to discuss proposed changes to state law, including increasing punishment for sex predators and better regulation for social-networking Web sites.

Cooper called for social-networking Web sites like MySpace.com and Facebook.com to get parental permission before children are allowed to submit personal information. He said those types of Web sites make it easy for sex predators to find victims.

"We know they are using these sites because you have kids who are on the site with their pictures up, information about themselves," Cooper said. "They go in and there are dozens and dozens of kids that they can groom and target as their next victim."

Cooper said the software is currently in place that can help Web sites verify ages of Web site users. Opponents have said that that process would not be reliable and online predators could find a way to circumvent the system.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted Thursday to have further discussion on the bill proposed by Cooper. The committee will discuss next Tuesday before possibly sending it to the full state Senate.

Law enforcement officers who fight cyber crimes are busier than ever. According to the State Bureau of Investigation, the number of defendants convicted in North Carolina jumped from 21 in 2004 to 48 in 2006. Most of the cases involved online solicitation and child pornography.

Local towns like Cary are already taking steps to improve officers chances of catching online criminals. The Cary Police Department now has a cyber crimes unit as well as police departments in Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill.

"There is a constant trend to go up. It really is a proactive step to prevent problems," said Cary police Chief Scott Cunningham.

Cooper also wants to arm officers with better tools to track down predators. The proposal would also make it a felony for a convicted sex criminal to be on Web sites where children are members and a requirement for anyone who discovers a pedophile to turn them in.


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  • At Work May 11, 2007

    I agree with nclover, kids will find a way to do things so if its in a living room and if it has programs in it to block certain sites it will be harder for them and more relaxing for you. Thats the point of the v-chip in the tv's

  • SmartAmerican May 10, 2007

    Nevermind the rampant pediphile problem with our elected Federal officials. There are a couple of provision attached to this bill that have nothing to do pediphiles and will lay the groundwork for govt. abuses of power. "Making it a felony to lie to an agent with the State Bureau of Investigation" & "Giving elected district attorneys the power to convene investigative grand juries". Please explain to me HOW this will stop pediphiles??? And why these 2 measures are attached here instead being on a seperate bill??

  • nighthunter May 10, 2007

    Last time I looked it was not a crime to talk, and even a protected right under the first ammendment. I also remember hearing that our Justice system was predicated on the assumption that a person was innocent until PROVEN guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt. So at this point we are planning to abrogate that to "protect" children? And I'm sorry, but the State of NC cannot control sites that are located outside the state and even outside the country. Besides, there are too many ways a false identity can be established on the net. The Cops are doing it - what makes them think they're smarter than the criminal? How about doing something really smart- teach the children what to look out for and what NOT to get involved with - like anyone contacted online that suggests a meeting in person means that an adult famly member MUST acompany the child to any such meeting.

  • bill0 May 10, 2007

    msudawg -your numbers are exactly my point. 48 cases is a pretty darn small number compared to the 9,000,000 or so people in the state. According to the state child services website, there are about 100,000 child abuse and neglect investigations in the state each year. If we are going to devote a bunch of money and resources to the issue, we should target the 100,000 person problem, not the 48 person problem.

  • nc lover May 10, 2007

    Parents move your childs Computer to a common area of the house
    Like a family room - Living Room etc.. Not their bedrooms where for the most part you can't monitor what their doing on computer.

  • yacs May 10, 2007

    msudawg, you'll get no argument from me. If you read my post carefully, you'll see that I said "in addition to" -- I support this measure, but would also like to see efforts aimed at the problem described by bill0. My point is, it doesn't have to be one or the other, and parents should know not to let their guard down just because their computers are protected.

  • methinks May 10, 2007

    shiftat13 is right, the program my husband installed in her computer is password protected and can only be uninstalled with the password and registration code. There is no off switch and the anti-virus program doesn't interefer with it. I guess it helps that my husband is now a computer tech and knows more about computers than my kid.

  • shera01 May 10, 2007

    Rev RB,ever heard of castration? ALL pediphiles should be castrated and jailed for life! See ther is a therapy.
    As for cyber-police,I don't feel that's the answer.Alot of pedi-
    philes are family related and so cyber-police would not help.Keep the police on the street.

  • refiman May 10, 2007

    the only needed changes is for parents to know what their kids are doing, not so hard, if you are a good parent. If your not, you may not know what their doing. In that case point the finger at yourself, if something happens. If something does happen, take care of it yourself, leave the police out of it. You handling it will have a much stronger message than the legal system would give. All the leagal system will do is to put them in prison. A individual can have much much more impact in these situations

  • msudawg May 10, 2007

    "bill0, thanks for your excellent point about the relatively small amount of abuse that spawns from cyberspace."

    That is historically speaking the abuse comes from people you know. But the article makes that point that cybercrimes are increasing from 21 in 2004 to 48 in 2006 in NC alone and that is just the numbers that were convicted. Not the others that may have gone away with plea deals, etc. That is a pretty big jump and as computers become a more common way of life it is going to continue to grow, they need to take a stand now and cut off these perverts as much as they can.