U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez is proposing a federal grant program to research and educate children about Internet safety, according to an Associated Press report. Menedez, D-N.J., said he is hopeful that educating teenagers, teachers and parents will stop children from sending explicit photos of themselves over cell phone and the Internet.
The grant proposal would authorize $25 million to $35 million each year for Internet safety programs. The grants would be awarded on a two-year basis and administered by the Department of Justice.
Menendez expects to introduce the grant proposal next week. He is scheduled to discuss the program today at George Washington Middle School in Ridgewood, N.J. The school hosts a peer-to-peer program called Teenangels, in which teen volunteers spread the word about Internet safety.
Prosecutors in many states are struggling with how to proceed in cases where teens have used the Internet or cell phones to spread explicit photos of themselves or other teens in a practice called "sexting." Their actions technically amount to distribution of child pornography, a charge that could land the offending teen in jail and on sex offender registries.
Last month, New Jersey authorities arrested a 14-year-old girl from Clifton who posted nude photos of herself on MySpace.com. She was charged with child pornography and distribution of child pornography.
In Pennsylvania, 17 teens who helped distribute photos of a scantily-clad classmate over their cell phones agreed to participate in a five-week, after-school program to resolve charges filed by the district attorney.
In a lehighvalleylive.com poll last month, 56 percent of respondents said they think teens should be criminally prosecuted for circulating obscene photos of themselves or others? What do you think? Post a comment.