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Illinois representatives unanimously approve sexting education bill

MAURICE WEST

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - The Illinois House approved a proposal Thursday to add sexting curriculum to sex education courses in schools.

Rep. Maurice West (D-Rockford) championed this plan last year when it unanimously passed out of the House. However, it couldn't get approval from the Senate before the COVID-19 pandemic cut session short.

His plan covers age-appropriate content for students in sixth grade through senior year of high school. The Democrat reintroduced the bill because he feels students need to understand the consequences of sending or sharing sexually explicit messages.

West's proposal could require sex education courses to include information on the long-term social, legal, and academic consequences of sharing or forwarding suggestive photos, videos, or messages. He also noted there's a disturbing increase in sexting online.

"60% of sextortion, as the detective told me who I had a conversation with, 60% are from individuals that they know. 40% comes from gaming, the games that they play," West said.

This proposal also highlights how students can report a sexting issue. West previously told the Capitol Bureau students need to understand they could be charged with possession of child pornography if they're caught with the inappropriate content.

House Bill 24 passed out of the House unanimously, 115-0. It now heads to the Senate for consideration.

This proposal would not make sex education mandatory for schools. If signed into law, the requirement would only affect schools already teaching sex education courses.

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Mike Miletich

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