On February 8, a historic bill authored by Rep. Chris Smith (R-Hamilton Square) was signed into law by President Obama. The law aims to protect children around the world from convicted pedophiles who travel the world seeking child victims.

The law is officially named The International Megan’s Law to Prevent Child Exploitation and Other Sexual Crimes Through Advance Notification of Traveling Sex Offender. But it will commonly be referred to as an international Megan’s Law, in honor of Megan Kanka, the seven years old child from Hamilton who was killed by a convicted, repeat sex offender living on her street and unknown to the local residents.

Her parents, Richard and Maureen Kanka have worked tirelessly since her death to protect children in all 50 states, and with this effort, Richard Kanka noted that the key to all Megan’s Laws is that the law helps to reveal “the secret status of convicted child predators and that removing the secrecy will prevent more children from becoming victims in the U.S. and abroad by simply making facts known.”

The new law makes it a crime for a sex offender to travel abroad without giving 21 days advance notice, so that law enforcement has adequate time to vet the traveler and send warnings to destination countries. In addition to other essential tools for law enforcement, it also requires that U.S. officials be warned when known sex offenders are traveling into the U.S.

Thanks to Rep. Chris Smith, who has authored other essential laws aimed at ending  the scourge of human trafficking, including the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act, children around the world are safer, and law enforcement has the tools it needs, to interdict child sex tourism for pedophiles.  

John S. MacGowan, St. Rose Parish, Belmar