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Legislation looks to address virtual learning harassment amid pandemic

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Posted at 10:47 PM, May 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-04 23:52:41-04

A bill in the legislative session is looking to address harassment through virtual learning.

Filed by District 42 Representative John Stefanski (R), the bill updates current legislation to reflect the learning environment during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Present law prohibits individuals 17 years of age and older from using electronic communications for the purpose of persuading someone under 17 to engage in sexual conduct. Under HB222, it would also be against the law when someone 17 or older uses another person 17 or older to contact a person under 17.

The bill specifies that 'lewd or lascivious acts committed in the virtual or physical presence of a student' are prohibited. Current law more generally provides for the crime of prohibited sexual conduct between an educator and student.

Finally, the proposed measure would make it illegal for an adult to manipulate someone under 17 to take a photo, film, or videotape of oneself to send to the adult.

Rep. Stefanski said of HB222, "Kids are on all kinds of different apps. While children use those apps, there's also predators who use those same apps. So we need to make sure that we're protecting our children when predators try to reach out to them and try to solicit them using those means of technology."

The bill is scheduled to go before the House Committee on Administration of Criminal Justice on Wednesday.

Read HB222 in its entirety here.

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