Guam – Vice Speaker Benjamin J.F. Cruz and Senator Tina Muna-Barnes introduced a bill this afternoon that intends to protect residents from bullying and “cyberbullying,” and also to educate adolescents on the severity of the consequences of underage “sexting.”
In the last legislative term, the Vice Speaker, along with the Attorney General drafted legislation to respond to the growing number of incidents of intimidation, emotional distress, physical violence, and sexually suggestive behavior. This behavior is enabled by the increased accessibility to technology such as social networking sites, and smartphones to adolescents.
In addition to updating the existing laws to address the harm arising from the use of these electronic devises, and social networking sites, Bill No. 41 would amend the consequences for underage sexting, or the use of a cell phone to send sexually suggestive texts or emails with nude or nearly nude photos. This measure was introduced in the previous legislative term as Bill No. 436-30.
“As the law is currently written, if a teenager photographs herself in a sexual manner and sends it digitally to her boyfriend, she is guilty of distributing child pornography and, if convicted, will become a registered sex, offender for life.” Vice Speaker Cruz said. While underage sexting is a cause for concern, this penalty is a bit harsh to impose on a child who is unaware of the consequences of his or her actions.”
The bill would provide that the Attorney General’s Family Division will enroll first time offending juveniles in a diversionary program designed to educate them on the severity of the crime and the legal and personal consequences of digitally transmitting explicit images.