Over the past few months, the importance of keeping our children safe has rightly received a lot of attention. The tragic events that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School in November heightened everyone’s awareness of the need to do what we can to make sure our young sons and daughters are out of harm’s way. As a father of three young children, this issue is of special relevance to me personally.
After hearing this, it became clear there was a loophole in Ohio law. Seeing the potential danger this loophole could pose to our children, I introduced legislation that increased the rights of parents and guardians to monitor the electronic communications used by their children. The bill passed the House unanimously, but unfortunately failed to move through the Senate.
On January 3rd of this year, I hosted a meeting in New Concord consisting of law enforcement from Guernsey and Muskingum counties, school officials, teachers, school administrators and faith-based groups. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the issue of school violence and the safety of our children and students.
There were many great ideas exchanged at the meeting, and it was clear that everyone was committed to finding ways to keep children safe. The communication interception bill, which I am reintroducing this year, will be an important step toward reaching this goal. It is my hope that this time it will pass through both chambers of the state assembly and be signed into law. Like the previous bill, it will exempt a parent or guardian of a minor child from being prohibited to intercept their child’s wire, oral or electronic communication. That includes any communication in which the child participates, is a recipient or is the intended the recipient, so long as the interception is made in good faith for the child’s protection.
With today’s youth being so comfortable with using technology like the Internet and cell phones, the ability for a parent to monitor what their children are doing is critically important to ensuring their safety. While we want to make sure our children have freedom and privacy in their lives, we live in a family-based society that should encourage parents to do everything they can to keep children safe.
I am always open to hearing input from the people of the 97th House District so we can put forward the most effective legislation possible. Please do not hesitate to contact my office at any time with your ideas and feedback.
State Representative Brian Hill (R-Zanesville) today was sworn in as a member of the Ohio House of Representatives for the 130th General Assembly. He represents the 97th Ohio House District, which includes Guernsey and most of Muskingum County.