'Child Safety Test' Faces Possible Funding Fight - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

'Child Safety Test' Faces Possible Funding Fight

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The abduction of Nelson County teenager Alexis Murphy is just one recent case that has state lawmakers ready to make some changes.

They want to keep kids across the commonwealth safer by teaching them the skills they need to protect themselves, but funding concerns could keep the program from ever reaching the classroom.

The idea is called the "Governor's Child Safety Test," eight hours of instruction per year to teach students how to identify and avoid danger.

"They get lured into situations that they aren't prepared to identify or resist potential harm," said 24th District Delegate Ben Cline, who is carrying the proposal in the House of Delegates.

The program would give students of all ages the tools they need to stay safe in potentially dangerous situations, "beginning with 'stranger danger' at a very young age, and progressing on to cases for teenagers," Cline said.

In a message to media members Tuesday, Trina Murphy, Alexis' aunt, expressed her family's support of the measure, saying in part:

"Alexis has been missing since Aug. 3, 2013...this Thursday at 10 a.m. we will have legislation in the Senate that is vitally important to ensuring that no other family has to endure the pain and suffering that we have had to face the past six months...It will ensure amongst other things that all of our children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, etc. receive a minimum of eight hours of instruction on how to avoid and react to abduction situations."

Developing the curriculum is expected to cost about $130,000, funded entirely with fees paid by convicted criminals. The bill proposes raising the current $10 fee to $15 to raise additional revenue.

"The fee would cover continuing education and give the localities that ability to give kids the training they need," Cline said.

A house appropriations subcommittee is still reviewing whether to approve that fee increase, and whether to approve how new revenues would be divided. But despite concerns from some lawmakers, Cline remains optimistic.

"This will give them the tools they need," he said.

Parents would be allowed to opt out of the program if they do not want their child involved.

A similar bill carried by state Senator Creigh Deeds cleared a vote in committee Tuesday, and is now on its way to the full Senate for a vote. Cline's bill faces its next test Thursday before a Senate subcommittee.

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