Toepel’s Child Protection Bill Heads to Full House
2/12/2013
HARRISBURG – On the heels of the recommendations of the Task Force on Child Protection, the House Judiciary Committee today unanimously approved legislation authored by Rep. Marcy Toepel (R-Montgomery) to enhance the criminal sentence for the offense of child pornography.

“A big part of protecting children and families is making sure offenders face and pay the ultimate price and do not repeat such heinous acts,” said Toepel. “As a grandparent and public servant charged with protecting children and families, I am repulsed by the great lengths predators will go to get their fixes by destroying vulnerable lives.”

House Bill 321 is modeled upon federal sentencing guidelines, which establishes greater sentences based upon the aggravating factors of age of the child, the number of images possessed and the nature and character of the abuse.

The task force, in its report to the General Assembly, stated that despite the fact that child pornography is a very serious offense, sentencing varied greatly and some defendants were placed on probation.

“Criminals who create, share and store despicable images of child pornography are responsible for destroying children’s lives and they must be punished harshly,” said Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman, a proponent of this legislation. “Representative Toepel’s legislation will properly increase penalties for those who trade in these most damaging images which strip so many child victims of their innocence.”

According to the Pennsylvania attorney general, the growth of the Internet has been astronomical, and regrettably, predators are using the Internet as their primary means of contacting and communicating with their young victims.

As the Internet expands, the problem of sexual predators has increased tremendously. The following are statistics on the growing problem: 

  • The Internet Filter Review, an online publication that is dedicated to protecting children from pornography on the Internet, has estimated that there are 100,000 websites offering illegal child pornography. It also reports that the average age of exposure to Internet pornography is 11.
  • The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reports that one in five girls and one in 10 boys are sexually exploited before they reach adulthood.
  • One in five children, ages 10 to 17, received unwanted sexual solicitations online, according to the Youth Internet Safety Survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice.

In addition to Toepel’s legislation, the House Judiciary Committee also reported out five other bills and one resolution recommended by the Task Force on Child Protection. Among those bills include House Bill 316, which would establish a funding stream for child advocacy centers; and House Resolution 45, which would commission a study to assess where those advocacy centers are needed.

All of these proposals now head to the full House for consideration. For more legislative information, visit Toepel’s website at www.RepToepel.com or follow her legislative Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/RepToepel.

Representative Marcy Toepel
147th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Lauren Whetzel
717.260.6451
lwhetzel@pahousegop.com 

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