(INDIANAPOLIS, IN) - House and Senate committees vote today on rival proposals for dealing with "sexting", teenagers' use of cell phones to send explicit pictures of themselves or classmates.
Represenative Sandy Blanton (d-orleans) and Senator Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis) agree there's a need to fix a disconnect in current law, which treats sexting as child pornography and can land a high school student on the state's sex offender registry.
Merritt's bill would make sexting a juvenile offense, thereby yanking it out of adult court and into a setting where the punishment would not be as harsh.
Blanton says she hasn't seen Merritt's bill, but looks forward to reading it when the house and senate exchange legislation next month.
Her bill would turn the question over to the legislature's sentencing policy study committee to review this summer, with an eye to making recommendations for the general assembly's 2011 session.
Blanton's bill would take the immediate step of bringing text messages and postings on social-networking sites such as Facebook under the state law defining bullying.
She says the move would make it easier for schools to take countermeasures, possibly including banning or confiscating students' cell phones during school hours.
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