By Josh Mitchell
Corinth Today News Editor
A bill in the Mississippi Legislature seeks to crack down on minors engaged in “sexting.”
State Rep. Nick Bain, D-Corinth, said he sponsored the bill at the request of Attorney General Jim Hood. A similar bill has been filed in the state Senate.
Other states have also had legislation dealing with sexting in recent years. Youth who take part in sexting risk their reputation and friendships and may also cross legal boundaries, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
The legislation would make “sexting” a delinquent act, and youth courts would have the original jurisdiction.
People under 18 would be prohibited from using an electronic communication device to “produce, transmit, disseminate, distribute or display an indecent visual image” of themselves or another minor, the bill says. It would also be illegal for youth to knowingly possess or receive such images of minors.
Violations would constitute misdemeanors except in certain cases, the bill adds. They would constitute a felony if minors depicted in the images were three or more years younger than the minor responsible for the image.
Minors with two prior adjudications for similar images and minors who use blackmail or other means in connection with such images would also be subject to the felony provision. Youth who have previously been adjudicated delinquent under state exploitation of children laws would also qualify for the felony-level offense.
The bill would not require minors to register as sex offenders.
The legislation does not seek to penalize youth who accidentally send an inappropriate photo of themselves. There would also be exceptions and defenses for minors who receive unsolicited photos and don’t share those images with anyone else other than an authority figure.
Attorney General Hood’s office was not immediately available for comment on the bill Wednesday.
The bill is House Bill No. 1467, and it can be read by clicking here.