- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 5, 2002

Aiming to increase safety for children, President Bush signed legislation yesterday toughening seat-belt requirements and trying to create an Internet haven for kids.
Surrounded at his Oval Office desk by family members of a Washington state 4-year-old who was killed in a car crash in 1996, Mr. Bush signed a measure requiring automakers to install shoulder belts in addition to lap straps in the middle rear seats of new vehicles starting in 2005.
Dubbed "Anton's Law" in memory of Anton Skeen, the bill became law as the boy's sister, Geneva, and mother, Autumn, stood by with a large framed photograph of him.
Car manufacturers say they already have begun to add three-point belts in the center seat, considered the safest for children in an auto accident. Up to now, only a lap belt has been required.
By 2008, when all new vehicles must have the belts, it will be easier for parents to put children who ride in booster seats in that safer middle seat. Booster seats, which ensure that a seat belt fits across a child's torso instead of neck and are designed to be secured with a three-point belt, are recommended for children weighing more than 40 pounds, until they are 4 feet 9 inches tall.
Later, behind closed doors, Mr. Bush also signed a measure allowing $2.3 billion during the next four years for rebuilding Afghanistan. The bill provides another $1 billion to expand peacekeeping forces outside the capital city of Kabul, where they have been limited so far.
Congress still must approve the spending.
But the legislation singled out for the most attention, with broader media attendance and a bigger audience, was that establishing a new Internet domain reserved for kid-safe content.
The international body that governs domain names refused to create a suffix such as .com and .org for child-appropriate content. So the measure establishes a new .kids.us Internet domain to be available within a year and overseen by the federal government.
A federal contractor will approve participants wanting to establish addresses with the new suffix and continuously monitor to be sure they are free of pornography and other material not suitable for youngsters under 13.
"We must give our nation's children every opportunity to grow in knowledge without undermining their character," Mr. Bush said with family and child-safety advocates, as well as a few children, looking on.
The sites will be prohibited from linking to outside Web sites. To protect against Web predators, instant messaging and chat rooms will be banned unless certified as safe.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide