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Iowa Bill Targets Parents of Porn-Viewing Kids

Iowa Bill Targets Parents of Porn-Viewing Kids
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Wednesday, Mar 4, 2009    Text size: 
DES MOINES, Iowa — A bill under consideration by Iowa lawmakers proposes that parents face punishment if their children are allowed access to pornographic content.

Under the bill, House 443, and its companion bill, Senate File 271, parents whose children view adult content would be guilty of child abuse and earn placement on the state child abuse registry.

Since its initial proposition last week, House 443 has been a subject of controversy.

Supporters of the bill are saying that several existing bills of a similar nature contain loopholes exempting parents from accountability in obscenity distribution, and that child abuse has a direct relationship to pornography.

"This legislation isn't the icing on the cake. It's the cake," said Kathy Lowenberg, director of counseling for Growth and Healing in Iowa City. "We have to have it."

Lowenberg added that in her experience treating victims of child abuse, pornography plays a considerable role in most cases.

The bill's critics claim the existing bills are effective, and that the bill is broad to the point that "even a child who sneaks a peek at a Playboy magazine could push parents into legal turmoil," according to the Des Moines Register.

"This would have the state intervening in families every time a parent drops their guard," said Randall Wilson, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa. "You have adolescent hormones raging here, you have curiosity and I think, truth be told, you would find that a whole lot of kids would qualify as children in need of assistance who belong to perfectly normal families."

Critics have also raised the issue of the bill's stance on children viewing pornography inadvertently or without their parents' knowledge. It is reported that the bill does not answer these and other questions.

"We need to do a lot more discussion," said Sen. Becky Schmitz (D), "and be a little more specific about what we mean and the ramifications of it."

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