Republican Rep. John James introduces bills to protect children online and secure schools

John James
Rep. John James (R-MI) addresses the audience after being sworn into office, Friday, Feb. 24, 2023, in Warren, Michigan. Jose Juarez/AP

Republican Rep. John James introduces bills to protect children online and secure schools

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EXCLUSIVE — Freshman Rep. John James (R-MI) introduced legislation to Congress on Thursday to improve school security and keep students safe.

The three bills include school safety measures addressing social media’s negative effect on children, an incentive to store guns securely, and a secure school plan.


“As the father of three school-aged boys, I pray every day that the Lord allows them to return home safe and sound,” James said in a statement to the Washington Examiner. “It’s insane that millions of parents have to make that prayer every day in America. It’s incensing that dozens of parents’ prayers have not been answered in a generation. Prayer is powerful, but we must do more than pray. We must change policy too.”

To tackle the mental health crisis plaguing children, the Protecting Kids on Social Media Act aims to hold social media companies more responsible for recommended content, and minors would need a guardian’s permission to create an account.

The act serves as a companion bill to one introduced by a bipartisan group of senators in May, sponsored by Sens. Chris Murphy (D-CT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Tom Cotton (R-AR), and Katie Britt (R-AL).

The bill would bar social media companies from recommending content using algorithms to users under the age of 18 and set the minimum age of social media users to 13, but those under the age of 13 can still view content if it does not require an individual login.

Social media companies would be required to implement age verification measures and create a pilot program for a government-issued age verification system.

“We’ve seen the devastating toll that unchecked social media practices take on our kids’ safety and mental health,” co-sponsor Rep. Pat Ryan (D-NY) said. “For too long, government has been a step behind Big Tech. That ends now. I’m proud to join with congressman James to fight for commonsense regulations that will keep our kids safe from social media companies’ predatory practices.”

The legislation pushes for a $300 tax credit used to reimburse parents or guardians who purchase gun safes or other storage safety equipment. The Incentivize Motivated Parents with Responsible Options for Vital Education, or IMPROVE, Safety for Schools Act aims to address firearms as a leading cause of death among children without imposing any new rules on gun owners.

In 2020 and 2021, guns were a factor in deaths of those under 18 more than any injury or illness, with that trend continuing in 2022, according to provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The bill requires firearm safety training for parents, establishes a $300 nonrefundable tax credit for firearm safety technologies including gun locks and gun safes, and expands access to information about gun safety through multiple avenues,” co-sponsor Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) said. “I look forward to working together with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to enact this bipartisan commonsense legislation.”

Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R-VA) signed a similar gun safety measure into law in March, providing a $300 tax credit to those who buy firearm safes or lockable containers.


Finally, the School Security is National Security Act seeks to include a school safety plan in President Joe Biden’s national security strategy. The security strategy acts as a guidance on the nation’s international and domestic interests and policies, varying with every administration.

“No parent dropping their kids off at school should have to worry about their child’s safety,” Ryan, co-sponsoring another bill, said. “I’m proud to join congressman James on this crucial first step toward securing our schools and making sure that every child returns home safely at the end of each school day.”

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