Representative Peter Breen Files Legislation to Criminalize Distribution of Child Suicide Videos

State Representative Peter Breen (R-Lombard) was shocked to learn recently that it is not against the law to share or sell video that depicts a child committing suicide. The DuPage County lawmaker took steps to criminalize that practice today with the filing of HB 825 in Springfield.

“Just a few weeks ago, a 12-year-old from Georgia livestreamed her own suicide on social media and the video was widely shared by people in the days following the incident,” said Breen. “A few days prior to that, a 14-year old from Florida also livestreamed her suicide from the bathroom of her home and that video went viral. But our brave law enforcement officers have no tools to stop people who further victimize these children by distributing their suicide videos. We have to do everything we can to keep kids from taking their own lives, and the viral nature of these videos only promotes others to consider suicide.”

Specifically, HB 825 amends the criminal code to create the offense of Criminal Distribution of a Suicide Depiction. The bill targets suicides committed by those under the age of 18 and those with intellectual disabilities, protecting those in society who are most vulnerable. Cognizant of constitutional concerns, Breen drew specifically upon statutes banning the distribution of child pornography in drafting this bill.

According to Breen’s legislation, an individual is guilty of the crime if he or she knowingly publishes, sells, delivers, or makes an offer to sell or deliver, a video or audio depiction of a child or disabled person committing suicide. A first offence would be classified as a Class A misdemeanor, and those who engage in a second or subsequent offense would be guilty of a Class 4 felony.

“This is one of those areas where we would have hoped that human decency and a sense for what is right and wrong would prevail,” Breen said. “But unfortunately, with the rapidly-increasing use of the Internet for live-streaming of videos, we have to legislate in order to curb this alarming practice.”

No comments :