New California Laws Expand Protection for Children

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California is moving to protect its children through restrictions on Internet pornography and background checks for all prospective school employees.

Gov. Pete Wilson (R) signed one law Tuesday designed to crack down on pedophiles who use the Internet. The law makes the use of the Internet or electronic mail to distribute inappropriate material to minors punishable by prison time.

"Pedophiles have used the unfettered access of the Internet to wage open war on our children," Mr. Wilson says. "This bill gives law enforcement and prosecutors a powerful weapon to use against sexual predators who prowl for victims online."

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Wilson's office quoted figures from the FBI stating that there were 1,700 cases of sexual material being transmitted to minors by sexual predators in 1994, the most recent figures available.

Under the new state law, the Internet service provider is not responsible for the criminal misuse of the Internet by any of its customers.

Wilson also signed a legislative package requiring all California schools to carry out thorough background checks on prospective employees before they are hired to protect school children from dangerous criminals.

One bill signed by Wilson requires that a criminal background check be completed before anyone is hired, even for a temporary or substitute position.

Another bars a public school district from hiring or retaining any person who has been convicted of a serious or violent felony unless the person has received a certificate of rehabilitation or pardon.

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