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Florida governor signs five bills designed to protect children from predators

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(The Center Square) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed five bills on Wednesday designed to protect children from sexual predators.

The new legislation ranges from House Bill 1545, which protects children from grooming activities and other sexual offenses to Senate Bill 1224 which strengthens the role of the Statewide Guardian ad Litem Office while implementing training requirements for law enforcement to assess a domestic violence situation properly.

HB 305 expands the evidence that can be presented to a jury in sex-abuse cases involving minors while increasing penalties for those who participate in sex trafficking minors. HB 1235 creates stricter guidelines for registering sex offenders. HB 1131 establishes the Online Sting Operations Grant Program within the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to create online sting operations to catch sex offenders.

“In Florida, we stand for the well-being and the innocence of our children,” DeSantis said. “We have taken action over these many years to protect the well-being of our children in a variety of ways, to support the rights of parents…and to ensure those who do children harm, are held accountable.”

DeSantis noted that this includes reinstituting the death penalty for pedophiles and added that there is currently a case where the death penalty is being sought.

“At the end of the day, we want kids to just be kids, and when you have adults that are looking to harm them, we’ve got to step in, and we’ve got to protect them, and that’s exactly what we’re doing here today,” DeSantis said.

DeSantis stated that law enforcement will crack down on child groomers, and noted that the message will be clear to adults who take advantage of children that they are not welcome in Florida.

“We’re taking a strong stand here in the state of Florida, that’s typically what we do in these situations and I think this is going to offer good protection for the children of our state,” DeSantis said. “We’re gonna make sure we keep the bad guys at bay.”

Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles director and former special prosecutor Dave Kerner said that adults who prey on children are the manifestation of evil.

“Our residents and law enforcement should have every tool to prevent these terrible people from ever having the opportunity of taking advantage of children,” Kerner said.

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