Lt. Governor Husted, State Rep. Pavliga Discuss Social Media Parental Notification Act
Ohio family speaks to dangers of social media following son’s suicide(INDEPENDENCE, Ohio)—Ohio Lt. Governor Jon Husted was joined by State Rep. Gail Pavliga (R-Portage County) in Northeast Ohio today to discuss the Social Media Parental Notification Act and to hear from local Streetsboro parents, Tamia and Tim Woods, who tragically lost their 17-year-old son by suicide after he was a victim of sextortion via social media in November 2022.
The Social Media Parental Notification Act, included in the Executive Version of the State Operating Budget, is a recently introduced proposal championed by Lt. Governor Husted that would require certain online companies to obtain verifiable parental consent to contractual terms of service before permitting kids under the age of 16 to use their platforms.
Under the proposal, companies must:
- Create a method to determine whether the user is a child under the age of 16
- Obtain verifiable parental or legal guardian consent if the user is under the age of 16
- Send written confirmation of the consent to the parent or legal guardian
"Sextortion is a growing crisis in Ohio," said State Representative Gail Pavliga. "It is a crime that has struck home in my district and has become all too real for families everywhere. I hope our discussion today can open a dialogue on how to educate families and prevent tragedies similar to the ones the Woods and other families have had to endure."
Tim and Tamia Woods also participated in today's press conference to share the story of their son, James. The family has advocated for spreading awareness about sextortion and other cybercrimes through creation of the non-profit "Do It For James Foundation" in honor of the teen’s life and to help educate others.
According to the statement released by the Streetsboro Police Department and Streetsboro City Schools where James was a student athlete, “sextortion” is an online crime that happens when an adult poses as a same-aged peer to convince a victim to share sexual pictures or perform sexual acts on camera. Shortly after losing James to suicide, the Woods family and local police discovered that hundreds of messages, over the span of nearly 20 hours, were sent to James via social media in an effort to extort him for money.
"Everyone is connected with the internet, there are good and bad things that can come from it," said Tim and Tamia Woods. "We are here as Tim and Tamia (James Woods‘ Parents) but also as the Do It for James Foundation to help raise awareness, provide tools for students to help fight against cyber attacks and assist to provide an overall betterment for our youth."
More information about the Social Media Parental Notification Act can be found here.
If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, reach out for support by calling, texting, or chatting 988 to connect with the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.
For more on how Ohio is working to prevent suicide, please visit the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services website: https://mha.ohio.gov/get-help/prevention-services/suicide-prevention.