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TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — The Assembly has unanimously approved a bill to would let teenagers caught texting or posting sexually explicit photos online avoid prosecution if they complete a diversionary program.

The bill is for first-time “sexting” offenders who use their cell phones or computers to send or post lewd or suggestive photos.

It’s a nationwide problem that has confounded parents, school administrators and law enforcers. Several other states have enacted laws creating diversionary programs for juveniles who engage in sexting, which is technically a violation of child pornography laws.

Assemblywoman Pam Lampitt of Camden, who is sponsoring the bill, says it’s important to teach teens the potential consequences of their actions—not saddle them with a permanent criminal record. The state Senate hasn’t taken up the measure and the governor hasn’t stated a position.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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