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Sexting Now Illegal in Rhode Island

Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin reminds Rhode Islanders that “sexting” is now illegal. Governor Chafee yesterday signed the legislation, under which minors (individuals under 18 years of age) who create and transmit sexually explicit images of themselves can be charged with a “status” offense in Family Court. Individuals adjudicated of the sexting offense cannot be prosecuted under the state’s child pornography statutes. Those who possess or forward sexually explicit images of another minor (other than themselves) can be prosecuted under the state’s child pornography laws, and if convicted, may have to register as a sex offender. “In today’s world, many people choose to communicate via the Internet and cell phones. Youth especially have embraced new technologies such as text messaging, social networking sites, and digital cameras to share information and connect with friends. However, without proper guidance, these types of communication technologies can be dangerous to a child’s physical and psychological well-being,” said Attorney General Kilmartin. Information about the new law and tips to prevent sexting are available on the Attorney General’s website at www.riag.ri.gov. Also available on the website is a contract for parents and children to sign that sets up guidelines and rules for using the Internet and cell phones.

“Talking to children early and often will help to protect them from the dangers that can lurk in cyberspace,” added Kilmartin. “Make sure to review your house rules and conduct with your children before giving them access to Web-enabled technologies and cell phones. Along with discussing your expectations for their behavior, discuss the consequences for failing to meet those expectations, such as restricted access to Web and texting functions.”

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