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Ohio Bill Eases Punishment For Sexting By Minors

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The Ohio Senate is holding hearings for a bill that could ease up on the punishment for teenage sexting, as lawmakers argue the current punishment can carry lifelong consequences.

The proposed bill, SB239, still bans the act of teenagers sending sexually explicit images to other teenagers.

However, it creates a standard punishment of attending a diversion program.

State Sen. Nathan Manning (R-North Ridgeville) says this helps teens avoid a potential felony and the possibility of being labeled a sex offender.

"We're just trying to clarify that yeah, hey maybe juveniles shouldn't be sharing these images but they shouldn’t be held certainly at the felony level and maybe not at any level and you know educate them a little bit," says Manning.

Prosecutors have opposed similar legislation in the past saying it doesn't leave room for their own discretion.

But Manning argues that the bill still allows for the possibility for a harsher punishment.

In 2018, HB355 had passed out of the Ohio House but it failed to make it out of a Senate committee before the end of session.

Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.