Students, Lawmakers Focus on “Sexting” Penalties

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One out every five teens admits to either sexing to receiving a “sext” message and once it’s out there, it can be forwarded and forwarded again, leading to embarrassment or worse – the possibility of being placed on the state’s sex offender registry.

On Monday, Connecticut joined 15 other states that are considering bills to establish more realistic penalties for teen sexting.

Republicans who are concerned that teens who exchange sexually explicit photos or videos could face serious child pornography charges and the possibility of being placed on the state's sex offender registry for years proposed the bill, State Representative Michael Lawlor, the Democratic co-chairman of the legislature's Judiciary Committee, said.

The legislation the committee will consider would affect teens between 13 and 17 years old.

“Sexting is actually a very, very big deal because what is happening is adolescents, teenagers, even middle schoolers are sending nude pictures of either part of their body or their entire. body and they’re sending it to their girlfriend of boyfriend and what’s happening is that it’s getting distributed among the entire school,” Amanda Prince, a senior at Post University, said.

From there, they are going on Facebook and MySpace.

“It’s getting all over the Internet and thousands upon thousands of people are seeing it,” she said. “Not only are peers and friends, and family seeing it but it can also get in the hands of pedophiles, it can get in the hands of the wrong people.”
The bill would make it a Class A misdemeanor if teens between 13 and 17 exchanged sexually explicit pictures of themselves rathere than a felony. It would still be a felony for anyone over the age of 18 to distribute sexually explicit photos. 

At least 15 states this year have introduced or are considering bills or resolutions regarding "sexting," according to The National Conference of State Legislatures. The

Judiciary Committee will hear testimony on the legislation at a public hearing on Monday morning.

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