California Sexting Law Brings 'Footloose' Flashbacks

FootlooseSomebody call Kevin Bacon, we may need to do a modern-day version of Footloose. Only this time instead of one small town outlawing rock music and dancing, the entire state of California is getting involved in teens' sex lives. The state's Senate passed a law this week that says students can be expelled for sexting.

Besides the ridiculous nature of trying to quash teens' interest in and exploration of sex, the first problem here is: What exactly is sexting? The state has defined it as "the sending or receiving of sexually explicit pictures or video images by means of an electronic act."  So what's sexually explicit? Underwear? Cleavage? Full nudity? A tongue? Sexy dancing?

So much room for interpretation, so much potential for problems. Then there's the issue of when this ambiguously defined sexting can get you expelled. It's not just doing it in the classroom or on school grounds that can get you booted.


The law states texts sent in the following situations would be covered: 1. While on school grounds. 2. While going to or coming from school. 3. During the lunch period whether on or off the campus. 4. During, or while going to or coming from, a school sponsored activity.

On school grounds is one thing, but on the way to or from school and driving home after a football game on a Friday night is crossing well into personal time. What if you stop for a burger on the way home?

CNET also points out a ridiculous part of the bill that states a text would be deemed cause for expulsion IF "directed specifically toward a pupil or school personnel." So a college boyfriend or prison pen pal is a-okay, but not your high school sweetheart apparently?

There are certainly problems that come into play with teens (or anyone else -- yeah, you Brett Favre) sexting, and the intention of the law  is good; but it's ripe with so many loopholes and so much room for interpretation, it's going to do much more harm than good.

I hope my children never send or receive a single sext in their lives (before they're 30 anyway), but I'm not so naive to think they won't ... or do whatever it is kids will be doing when they reach their teenage years. We saw it in Footloose; we see it today; it's not going to change -- Teenagers are going to think about sex, talk about sex, and some of them (gasp!) will even have sex. We can teach them all about safe sex, and abstinence, and anything in between, but in the end, they're their bodies, and their choices to make -- certainly not lawmakers.

While this case isn't likely to end in a big happy dance (or sexting party?) with the educators seeing the light, it should end with lawmakers stepping away, and letting parents and individual schools deal with problematic behavior as it occurs on an individual basis instead of trying to ban kids from texting on their phones what  they're probably already seeing and doing in their backseats and basements anyway.

Finally, because I can't think of anything but Footloose since reading about this ridiculous law, I leave you with this:

What do you think of California's sexting law?

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