A proposal at the Arkansas Legislature would make it easier to prosecute a person who gives pornographic or obscene material to children.
S.B. 81 by Sen. Dan Sullivan (R – Russellville) and Rep. Justin Gonzales (R – Okolona) generally makes it a crime to give or send “material harmful to minors” to a child.
The bill defines “material harmful to minors” to include sexual material that contains nudity or sexual activity.
The bill also eliminates exemptions for libraries and schools in the state’s obscenity statute — which would make it easier to prosecute a librarian or public school employee who distributes obscene material — and it creates a civil cause of action Arkansans can use if the state, a city, or a county distributes obscene material.
Taken together, the changes that S.B. 81 makes to Arkansas law could help address pornographic and obscene material in public libraries in Arkansas.
As we have written before, the Jonesboro public library has been at the center of multiple controversies over its decision to place books with sexually-explicit images in its children’s section while failing to adopt a policy that separates sexual material from children’s content.
Library officials have stood by their decision to share sexual material with children. The library even posted on Facebook that it isn’t the library’s responsibility to protect kids from obscenity.
Other public libraries in Arkansas have failed to separate sexual material from children’s material as well.
Public libraries are supposed to be for everyone. More and more, Family Council is hearing from people who are deeply troubled by the obscene children’s books that librarians have placed on the shelves of their local libraries.
Proposals like S.B. 81 could help protect children and families from patently inappropriate material in public libraries.
Articles appearing on this website are written with the aid of Family Council’s researchers and writers.