A bill that would ban sexting by anyone under age 19 and require courts to set up diversion programs for young offenders was approved by an Ohio House committee Tuesday night.
Sexting is so rampant that many teens are finding troubles beyond their years in courts struggling to cope with the modern phenomenon. One study showed almost 15 percent of teens have sent a sext and nearly a quarter have received one.
The House Criminal Justice Committee on Tuesday sent the bill on to the House.
The measure would require diversion programs, similar to one in Montgomery County. The programs would cover legal consequences, potential sanctions such as school discipline or the loss of job opportunities, the effect on relationships, the potential for bullying and how the searchability online for an infinite time can produce long-term consequences.
State Reps. Jeff Rezabek, R-Clayton, and Brian Hill, R-Zanesville, introduced the bill in September, which before being amended applied to those under age 21.
“This generation — a lot of pictures taken and videos recorded,” said Rezabek at the time. “It seems it’s always a young girl sending a picture to a young boy, who then sends it to his buddies.”
The ill-advised practice puts teens at risk for criminal charges, school expulsion and images of their privates being displayed and shared in the digital world. The behavior is so common that Montgomery and Clark counties set up diversion program for young offenders.
The bill would require that the diversion programs cover legal consequences, potential sanctions such as school discipline or the loss of job opportunities, the effect on relationships, the potential for bullying and how the searchability and infinite audience online can produce long-term consequences.
The bill would allow courts to use existing programs, such as Montgomery County, and prosecutors would retain the discretion to criminally charge first-time offenders when deemed appropriate.