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Protect Young Minds Online Act Will Shield Missouri Children from Pornography

By March 4, 2021Missouri
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(From the left, President and Founder of Stop Trafficking Project, Russ Tuttle, Concerned Women for America (CWA) Missouri Legislative Liaisons Jennifer Gore, Chriss White, and Trish Mitchell,  CWA of Missouri State Director, Bev Ehlen, Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Heidi Olson, CWA Legislative Liaison Alissa Johnson, Sen. Rick Brattin, (R. District 31), Internet Engineer Jerry Angelo, Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Miriam Crandall met to debrief and plan in Sen. Brattin’s office at the Missouri State Capitol after the hearing on SB 336 on Wednesday, February 24. (photo by Senator Brattin’s Chief of Staff, Tucker Jobes))

Consumer Protection, Energy and Environment Committee on Wednesday, February 24, at the Missouri State Capitol. Sponsored by Sen. Rick Brattin (R-District 31), SB 336 will require internet service providers to authenticate access to obscene websites and provide subscribers the ability to create an authentication to access such websites. A similar bill, House Bill 919, is sponsored by Missouri Representative Doug Richey (R-District 38.)

Concerned Women for America (CWA) of Missouri State Director Bev Ehlen had this to say about the bill, “A statute established over 40 years ago created the offense of furnishing pornographic material to minors as a class A misdemeanor.” Back then, a cover was put over the magazine, the magazines were put behind the counter, and pornographic videos were moved to a backroom out of the reach of minor children. The problem today is technology has advanced, and the statute has never been updated to include technology. We need this legislation to cover the internet, so our minor children are protected.”

Filters and Passwords to Protect
In a nutshell, SB 336 will require internet providers who want to do business in Missouri to provide a filter to shield ages 17 and under from obscenity. Subscribers over the age of 18 will have the ability to create a password, so when an obscene website is flagged, the subscriber enters the password and continues to the website. The bill also prohibits the collection or use of information about the use or user of the password.

“I am honored to sponsor SB 336,” stated Sen. Brattin. “It will protect young minds from the devastating effects of pornography that is far too easily accessible online. Today, we heard heartbreaking testimony from health professionals and others of real-life horrors that have occurred to young children. Thank you to those who testified in support of this bill to help protect our most vulnerable.”

The Hearing
During the hearing on SB 336, Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Heidi Olson testified, “One third to one-half of the perpetrators of sexual assault on minors are other minors between the ages of 12 and 14 who watch online pornography.” According to Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Miriam Crandall, this number does not include the perpetrators under the age of 12 because the state of Missouri does not prosecute minors under the age of 12 who commit sexual crimes. “In my experience, the number is much higher,” Crandall revealed at the hearing.

President and Founder of Stop Trafficking Project, Russ Tuttle, also testified at the hearing on SB336. Tuttle travels across Missouri making presentations to students on the dangers of social media and online activities. His testimony included horror stories of young students who talked to him after he spoke at their school. “One young girl, in tears, showed me the choke marks on her neck. She said her boyfriend choked her the day before, after viewing the act in online pornography,” Tuttle testified. “Another young girl, also weeping, told me that her best friend had just committed suicide because another student was using a nude photo of her to blackmail her.”

What is Next?
CWA of Missouri Legislative Liaison, Alissa Johnson, has been working on the Protect Young Minds Online Act for three years. According to Johnson, lawmakers do not hear the full outcry from Missouri families because those families, which have been affected by sexual assault, want privacy. “There were many in the hearing yesterday who were brought to tears, including me, by the devastating testimonies of what is happening to our children. We hope that the impact of the hearing yesterday will move this bill to a vote out of committee quickly, and then it will be brought to the floor for debate and passage, and the precious children of Missouri will be better protected.”

Take Action!
Click here for CWA of Missouri’s request for prayer and action for the bills.