'Sexting' Bill Passes Ohio House: Kids Not Labeled Criminals

May 27, 2010 2:00 PM PST

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio House passed “sexting” legislation yesterday that prohibits minors from using a telecommunications device to send nude material to another minor.

The bill also says that children would not have to register as sex offenders if committing a sexting offense.

The ban on the practice that passed by an 86-12 vote on Wednesday said minors cannot post, forward, receive or possess photographs, video or other material that shows them or another minor in a state of nudity.

The bill must still be approved by the Ohio Senate before becoming law.

Those who support the measure said it is needed to protect minors from serious adult child pornography charges if they share nude pictures of themselves or classmates using cell phones, e-mail or websites such as Facebook.

The new legislation would send young sexting offenders to juvenile court for punishment that would not include jail.

The Ohio move is a step in the right direction according to 1st Amendment attorney Lawrence Walters.

Walters told XBIZ that Ohio is recognizing that sexting is occurring in high schools at a fairly frequent level and children can’t be prosecuted as criminals.

“Ohio, along with other states is adopting specific laws that take sexting out of the realm of child pornography, creating a new offense that according to reports only punishes sexting minors as committing unruly or delinquent acts — not crimes.”

The attorney noted that this then makes the offense a misdemeanor and would not levy a five-year prison sentence and sex offender label on a minor. “Ohio is recognizing that kids are in a different category as opposed to adults who are committing child pornography crimes,” Walters said.

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