Ohio’s state legislature today passed a bill that carves out a new law for under-18 individuals who share nude pictures of themselves with other minors. It will allow them to be charged with something other than child pornography.
Democratic State Senator Connie Pillich introduced the bill, calling the teen sexting phenomenon “a growing problem that must be addressed in the most responsible and effective way,” in a Columbus Dispatch story.
“Is this behavior bad? Yes. Does it warrant a life sentence as a sex offender? No,” added Pillich.
The state has had numerous cases where a teenager sent a nude picture of himself or herself to another teenager, usually through a text message. The only viable charge to make was the distribution of child pornography, even though the plaintiffs were only sending pictures of themselves.
None of those strong charges ever went through, leading some to say that such a concern was not valid. But the other side argued that the message was getting lost. Juveniles were faced with a certain charge but always got a much lesser sentence. Prosecutors in favor of the bill said that was sending the message that the offense wasn’t that serious.
Now, there’s something concrete that can be put on their juvenile records and punishments can be set accordingly. Ohio joins a handful of other states to have a specific teen sexting law.