What Are The Penalties for Sexting
House Bill Eases Up
Is it youthful folly, when you discover your child has been sexting or is it a criminal offence? Florida lawmakers have decided that when teenagers participate in sexting that it is not child pornography but is inappropriate. Florida lawmakers are trying to make it so the first offence of sexting is decriminalized. Teenagers are sexting by trading sexually explicit images of themselves and others by sending picture messages on their cell phones and social networking sites like myspace and facebook.
Rep. Joseph Abruzzo, " This, I believe will protect our children," "We shouldn't be labeling our children sexual predators from this type of behavior." This new bill separates this form of digital intimacy from harsh punishments of child pornography laws, however it does not decriminalize the act.
A teenager that is caught sending an explicit photo of him/herself or another minor is facing eight hours of community service for the first offense. The second time caught it is a second degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail.
On a fourth offense, the teenager faces five years in prison, which is a third degree felony. Leeway was given by lawmakers, stating that images sent within a 24 hour time frame count as only one offense. This is suppose to keep teens from getting a bad rap sheet. This bill in Florida reflects a national movement to address a "troubling element of teenage cyberculture".
A recent national study indicates one in five teenagers have sent sexual/sexy text messages with pictures. Now we know that a teenager of say 14 years old is not a hardened criminal for sending a topless photo of themselves to a boyfriend. But where do we draw the line. Would you want your child sending nude shots over the airways, I know I wouldn't. Some people would say its hard to blame teens for this behavior given today's influences.
More often than not this type of behavior backfires on the teen. In Florida there are two cases that caught national attention. One an eighteen year old boy emailed nude photos of his sixteen year ole girlfriend to his friends including the girls parents. He received five years probation for his act. The second was a thirteen year old girl that committed suicide after a photo she sent to her boyfriend was spread all over her middle school and a neighboring high school. This is a dangerous form of cyberbullying. These kids want to be sexy and look what can happen. Its scary as hell!
Today's teens have grown up with the Internet, but this does not make it right. Teens are impulsive, but this is not an excuse. Teens are given to much leeway and should be held accountable for their actions.
We should all tell our teenagers of the impending law and what will happen if this law passes. Talking to them may help save a few. But remember don't ask them what they think about it, ask them how they feel about it. The reason, someone once told me teens don't think they feel. That made perfectly good sense to me at the time, and still does.
Then we need to ask ourselves, just how much technology should we make available to our children. When asking this, remember you can never fully trust a teenager, no matter who they are.