Protect kids by cracking down on pornography sharing

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I fully respect the First Amendment of the Constitution. Everyone should have the right to free speech. However, the First Amendment should never be used as a defense for exposing minors to indecent materials.

If you've been following my time as a state representative, then you know my passion for helping survivors of sexual and physical assault. I'm extremely passionate about these issues and I strongly believe that any sex offender should be punished to the full extent of the law.

I've fought tirelessly to remove the statute of limitations on rape cases, and to see that every untested rape kit gets processed. No sexual assault survivor should ever be told their case no longer matters because a statute has expired or because no one “has the time” to test their kit.

This legislative session, I've taken on a similar cause – one I'm equally passionate about. Sexual crimes are heinous, no matter the victim. However, these crimes are magnified when children are involved. That's why we must do everything in our power to prevent sexual abuse crimes against children.

I have introduced House Bill 1292, which would criminalize the act of knowingly providing pornographic and other harmful materials to a minor by anyone 18-years or older.

In other words, anyone who provides this kind of harmful, vulgar material to a minor would be guilty of a gross misdemeanor. If the offending individual has previously been convicted of a felony sexual offense, they would be guilty of a class C felony.

My goal is to wipe out all grooming activities that serial pedophiles use to pursue having sex with children.

There is no gray area here. Anyone who knowingly exposes a minor to pornographic and other harmful, salacious material clearly has only one objective in mind. These monsters are grooming their victims with the intent to have a sexual relationship with them.

We must protect our children and youth from these predators, and this legislation would help do that.

House Bill 1292 is not a form of censorship and showing kids pornography is not a form of free speech protected by the constitution.

However, it's unfortunate the bill did not receive a hearing in the House Public Safety Committee, meaning it's now dead for this legislative session.

There are individuals and groups that have expressed some concerns about this bill. I assure you that I am open to working with anyone who has an interest in improving this legislation. I know there are always different points of view on every issue. However, despite our differences, I hope we can all agree that we must do whatever we can to keep our children safe from pedophiles.

Make no mistake: these predatory monsters who prey on minors should be punished to the full extent possible. If our government won't step up to protect our kids, then who will?

I'm very disappointed this piece of legislation didn't advance this legislative session, but this is just the beginning. We cannot fail our children by standing by and letting these crimes continue. I will do everything in my power to see that these offenders are held accountable for their actions. Our children are depending on us.

As printed in the Kitsap Sun

State Representative Dan Griffey, 35th Legislative District
RepresentativeDanGriffey.com
403 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
dan.griffey@leg.wa.gov
360-786-7966 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000