Indiana News

Senate Committee Passes Sexting Bill

Measure would make explicit text messages a juvenile offense, not an adult felony


A Senate committee has unanimously endorsed reduced penalties for sexually explicit text messages.

Both the House and the Senate are considering bills to separate "sexting" from child pornography laws. As written, those laws could land a teenager in prison and on the state's sex offender registry, punishment legislators agree is too harsh for the circumstances.

Sen. Jim Merritt's (R-Indianapolis) bill would make sexting a juvenile offense instead of placing it in adult court. It would also require parents to attend counseling sessions with their children.

The full Senate could take up the bill as early as Monday.

A House committee is considering a bill authored by Orleans Democrat Sandy Blanton to add text messaging to the state's laws on cyberbullying. That bill would turn over the broader question of how to punish sexting to a study committee.
Micah Clark, president of the American Family Association's Indiana chapter, says a national survey finds 30-percent of teenagers have received an unsolicited, sexually explicit text message.

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