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Senate OKs 2 bills that would aid children

The Senate has given its unanimous approval to two bills sponsored by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, related to missing and exploited children.

One bill extends a pilot program that calls for criminal history background checks for volunteers who work with children. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children assists volunteer groups like Boys and Girls Clubs of America, the National Mentoring Partnership and the National Council of Youth Sports in their evaluations of criminal records to prevent criminals, including child molesters, from becoming volunteers.

The program has processed more than 2,500 background checks, and it has successfully identified people with a criminal history of manslaughter, aggravated sex crimes, kidnapping, assault and rape of children. Of those with criminal records, more than half lied on the application.

The second bill grants private entities like the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children immunity from lawsuits when they are assisting the U.S. State Department.