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Governor Henry McMaster Signs Two Landmark Child Safety Bills Into Law

May 29, 2024

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Governor Henry McMaster and Lieutenant Governor Pamela S. Evette today were joined by members of the General Assembly and other community leaders to ceremonially sign two child safety bills into law: H. 4624, the Help Not Harm Bill, and H. 3424, the Child Online Safety Act. 

"Protecting the innocence of our state's children is our shared responsibility, and as threats to our children emerge, we must adapt our laws to ensure their safety," said Governor Henry McMaster. "These signings reflect our commitment to ensuring the health and well-being of all our state's children from damaging influences online and off. I am grateful for the support of the General Assembly and all those who have worked to bring these critical pieces of legislation to my desk."

Help Not Harm Bill (H. 4624) 

The Help Not Harm Bill prohibits healthcare professionals from knowingly providing gender transition procedures to a person under 18 years of age. Gender transition procedures are defined as puberty-blocking drugs, cross-sex hormones, or genital or nongenital gender reassignment surgery, used for the purpose of assisting an individual with a physical gender transition.

“We do not know how many surgeries have taken place in South Carolina related to this issue, but one is too many. It is past time that we protect our children," said State Representative Davey Hiott. 

The bill also prohibits public funds from being used directly or indirectly for gender transition procedures and precludes the South Carolina Medicaid Program from reimbursing or providing coverage for these procedures. 

Child Online Safety Act (H. 3424) 

The Child Online Safety Act protects minors from harmful online content by mandating websites containing 33.33% or more material deemed harmful to minors implement an age verification system to ensure that users under 18 years old cannot access the material. 

Harmful online content is defined as material or performances that depict sexually explicit nudity or sexual activity that an average adult applying contemporary community standards would find that the material or performance has a tendency to appeal to a prurient interest of minors in sex. This portion of the bill is effective January 1, 2025. 

“The average age that a child is first exposed to this material online is eleven years old. The state clearly has a compelling interest to protect our children, and that is what this bill does," said State Representative Travis Moore. 

The bill also makes websites that produce obscene material or promote child pornography or child sexual exploitation liable to an individual for damages, court costs, and reasonable attorney fees as ordered by the court and is open to class action suits.

“A tremendous body of work was developed for the promulgation of this legislation. We have put the guardrails in place to keep our children from going into digital destruction," said State Senator Danny Verdin.