Parents, teachers and prosecutors are all looking for ways to battle the
growing problem of teenager sexting: the sending of sexually explicit
images by cell phones.
Some states, including Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Wisconsin, have chosen
to prosecute teens on
child pornography charges. A New Jersey lawmaker wants the Garden State to choose another
way, preferring that first-time teen offenders be offered "a path
that places education and forgiveness before arrest and prosecution."
Camden State Assemblywoman Pam Lampitt has sponsored a bill that aims to
educate sexting teens without labeling them as sex offenders and damaging
their futures with criminal records.
Lampitt said she's especially interested in helping teen girls understand
the social and legal consequences of sexting. The practice includes sexual
images of minors sent by cell phone as well as those sent by e-mail and
then posted online.
The bill was unanimously approved in committee and will be voted on next
by the full Assembly. If approved, it moves on to the Senate. If passed
there, it would go to the governor's desk for a signature before becoming law.
The Associated Press reports that Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll of
Morristown said, "There are certain aspects [of life] in which criminal
law should not be involved, and this is one of them."
The law was introduced after a teenaged New Jersey girl was arrested and
charged with child pornography and distribution of child porn after she
allegedly posted photos of herself nude on a Web site.
She was later given probation and court-ordered counseling.
The proposed legislation would only apply to children without juvenile records.
Resource: Associated Press: "Bill would let 'sexting' NJ teens avoid
charges": January 24, 2011