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HOUSE OKS BILL INCREASING AUTHORITY OVER RUNAWAYS

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A 24-year-old man convinces a 16-year-old boy to come and live with him. An 18-year-old gang member gets his 14-year-old girlfriend to come and live with him at his father's house - yet the parents of the boy and girl can't get their runaway children back.

To help with that problem, House members approved a bill Monday that will give parents, police officers and state child welfare officials greater power to get runaway children out of others' homes and back in the custody of their parents."With the Internet, we have adults soliciting children to leave their parents and come live with them," said Rep. Kelly Atkinson, R-West Jordan, one of the co-sponsors of HB497.

"My constituent had a runaway 14-year-old daughter. He had her in counseling. But she ran away from the counseling session and to her boyfriend's house, where the boyfriend's father wouldn't let the police in, wouldn't admit the girl was living there," said Rep. Blake Chard, R-Layton.