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N.J. Sexting Bill Would Send Teens to Sexting School

And you thought traffic school sucked

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We all know that technology has made it so much easier these days for kids. I’m not even that old and I remember when I had to leave a message with my friend’s mom and wait for them to call me back. Landlines, I know, right?

And social media allows teens instant contact with hundreds of their friends. Remember when you had to call everyone you knew to invite them to a party? Or, god forbid, send a letter? Now you just click “create event” on Facebook and your work it pretty much done. Don’t even get me started on Wikipedia. Also, get off my lawn.

Since every teen has their own cellphone and every new phone has camera (or two) built in, it was just a matter of time before they all made a habit out of taking pictures of their privates and sending them to people.

And sorry, parents. Sexting isn’t going to stop. With the freedom of technology, it’s just what adolescents have come up with to deal with their changing emotions. So as long as puberty still continues to have an effect on the sex drive and kids continue to own phones, sexting is here to stay. It’s how we deal with it that matters.

Or at least that’s what the state of New Jersey thinks. The N.J. Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee has unanimously approved a bill (A-1561) that would decriminalize sexting, and instead replace it will “intense education.” It still needs to be approved by the entire Senate, however.

Sexting is criminalized, you might ask?

Over the last couple of years there have been charges filed against teens all over the country for sexting. In 2010 a 13-year-old girl and a 12-year-old boy from Indiana were both charged with possession of child pornography and child exploitation from sending nude photos to each other, of themselves.

In Harrisburg, PA, eight students at a local high school ranging in age from 13 to 17 were accused of child pornography for sexting. Pennsylvania then became one of many states that began to work on reforming the laws to fit this new phenomenon.

While some other states seek to simply make these charges less severe, as in a misdemeanor instead of a felony, many argue that the criminalization of the activity at all is ludicrous.

“Teens need to understand the ramifications of their actions, but they shouldn’t necessarily be treated as criminals,” Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt, a co-sponsor of the bill, said. “We need to create a path that places education and forgiveness before arrest and prosecution. Young people – especially teen girls – need to understand that sending inappropriate pictures is not only potentially illegal, but can leave an indelible mark on them socially and educationally.”

The education program would involve learning about the possible legal consequences of sending nude photographs to one another. it would also explore the “effect on relationships, its impact on school life” and how the sexting could impact their ability to get a job later in life. (huh?)

I don’t know guys. Should teenagers that willingly show nude pictures of themselves be the concern of the law? It this not a parental type of issue? I’m not a parent myself, but I feel like sexting is just the expression of what kids are going to do anyways – just expressed in the tech world.

It seems like people either have to limit teenagers’ use of technology or start to seriously adjust their standards for things that upset them. If recent history is any indication, it seems America is unnaturally outraged by anyone who sexts – so it might be tough to adopt an “it’s going to happen” stance.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments.

N.J. Sexting Bill Would Send Teens to Sexting School
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  • http://www.richpasco.org/ Rich Pasco

    It’s wrong to send kids to a special school to teach them it is wrong to share pictures of their own bodies. Instead they should be taught to respect the divinity of their bodies, and if sharing pictures is how they choose to do that, then so be it. Hopefully the school will teach the kids principles of respect, such as not to forward someone else’s photo without that person’s permission.

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