Sexting is a growing trend among teenagers. Now, Pennsylvania is closer to having laws that would penalize kids for sending sexually explicit images. The sexting bill is heading to the Governor's desk for approval.
Under the current laws, sexting between teenagers is covered by child porn laws. That means, kids caught with nude photos could face felony charges. Last night, both the House and Senate passed a bill that changes the penalties for teen's sexting, giving them an opportunity to still have a bright future.
Times are changing and a new law focusing on keeping up with the electronic revolution.
"I don't' think, as a parent, anybody's prepared for it," said one concerned parent.
Sexting is a growing trend for teens. A new bill passed the Pennsylvania General Assembly last night making the transmission and viewing of sexually explicit images by kids ages 12 to 17 illegal. The law was authored by York County Representative Seth Grove and makes a tiered penalty system for kids who send and receive sexually explicit images.
"A felony offense carries with kids for a long time unfortunately for a long time in fact, felony offenses are not allowed to be expunged," said Representative Seth Grove,(R) York County during a 2010 interview.
Under the old regulations, sexting cases are covered by child porn laws. An arrest or conviction means teens could kiss much of their future good-bye.
"So it really travels with them. Military service is out of the question, student loans, etc," Grove said.
Under the new law, it's a summary offense if kids consensually exchange the photo. But if a person passes it along to someone else or uses it to harass others, the penalties stiffen to a third and second degree misdemeanor. The tiered system could give kids who made a mistake a second chance.
"Teenagers are still really working with that decision-making, and they're not able to think through a lot of their decisions," said Dr. Carol Doss.
The law focuses on teens. Images of kids 12 and under, or the involvement of a person 18 or older, would still be prosecuted under the current child porn laws. The penalties for those crimes, mostly felonies, carry much stiffer sentences.
This bill has been in the works since 2008. It now heads to the Governor's desk for his approval and signature.
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