Proposal Would Punish PARENTS of 'Sexting' Teens
A measure which would allow a judge to punish the parents of teenagers who engage in the risky practice known as 'sexting,' was introduced today in the Texas Legislature, and immediately received the support of Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, 1200 WOAI news reports.
The measure, introduced by State Sen. Kirk Watson (D-Austin), would make sexting a Class C misdemeanor requiring a court appearance for the teenaged violator, and would allow a judge to 'sentence' his or her parent to participate in an education program on sexting's long-term harmful consequences.
'Sexting' is the use of a e-mail or a texting service to transmit an explicit photograph of themselves or of another teen.
"This bill ensures that prosecutors, and, frankly, parents, will have a new, appropriate tool to address this issue," Watson said. "It helps Texas laws keep up with technology and our teenagers."
The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy report in 2008 estimated that 22 percent of teen girls said they have electronically sent or posted online nude or semi-nude images of themselves.
"Sexting message senders have no control over their message's ultimate destination," Abbott said. "Embarrassing or sexually explicit messages can be forwarded to other students and later spread quickly through a school or anywhere in the world."
Currently, teens engaged in 'sexting' can be charged with possessing or trafficking in child pornography. That offense carries the potential of decades of prison time, plus the requirement that the teen register for the rest of his or her life as a sex offense pervert.
"This bill's legal provisions ensure that minors are punished for their improper behavior, but do not face life altering criminal charges," Watson said.
The law would also allow teens who successfully adhere to the court's requirements, which includes completing an ‘education program’ about the consequences of sexting, to petition to have the misdemeanor offense expunged from their records.