Ohio bill prohibits sexting under the age of 19, offers diversion program

A bill prohibiting sexting for anyone under the age of 19 passed the Ohio House of Representatives unanimously and is making its way to the state senate.

The bill defined sexting as the distribution of any pictures or other visuals showing a minor who is at least 13 years old in any condition of nudity. If this were to become a law, no one under the age of 19 would be allowed to "purposely create, produce, distribute, present, transmit, post, exchange, disseminate, or possess through a telecommunications device sexually explicit digital material" when the person they are sharing it with is more than four years older and the person depicted is a minor.

Anyone who would be charged with violating this potential law would be entered into a sexting educational diversion program or another diversionary-type program. This could be used by the court as an alternative to prosecution, unless the person in violation of the law has been previously convicted of, pleaded guilty to or been adjudicated a delinquent child for committing a sex-related offense. If this is the case, they will be sentenced to eight hours of community service.

The sexting educational diversion program would address the legal and nonlegal consequences of sharing sexually explicit material, how the unique characteristics of the internet can create long-term effects, and the connection between bullying, cyber-bullying and sexually-explicit digital materials.

If the person charged with this violation completes the program with satisfaction, the court will dismiss the charges against them. However, if they choose not to participate in the program or violate its conditions, they can be brought to trial or before the juvenile court, whichever is applicable.

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