It's too late for Congressman Anthony Weiner, but for teenagers who get caught texting photos of their junk, New York state lawmakers may have come up with a handy Get Out of Jail Free card.
Last Friday the “Cyber-Crime Youth Rescue Act” was proposed, which, if passed, would give prosecutors and judges more options for dealing with teenagers who get busted for creating and sharing sexually explicit images of minors—i.e., sexting. The idea is that instead of getting nailed with felony child pornography charges, teens would take part in an “educational reform program” that would teach them about the long-lasting repercussions of putting one's genitalia on the Internet.
In the wake of Weinergate, I'm thinking this program could be a handy prerequisite for anyone considering a political future. Or sports, for that matter.
(I'd add acting to the list, but everyone knows "leaked" nudie shots boost your career in Hollywood. I'm looking at you, suddenly-red-hot Blake Lively.)
As a parent, the idea of my kid deciding to send a cameraphone image of his private parts makes me want to preemptively ground him RIGHT NOW, but if I reluctantly force myself to think about the possibility of him getting caught in such an act, I'm a fan of the reform program. Kids, like congressmen, do profoundly stupid things—but unlike adults, they at least have the excuse of being young and foolish.
There's a big difference between sexting your girlfriend/boyfriend and a legitimate child pornography crime, and teens shouldn't be punished on the same level as sexual predators for an ill-advised dirty pic. New York is the latest in a growing number of states looking to create programs that teach kids about the impact sexting can have on someone's life. Instead of moving straight to criminal prosecution, judges would have the option of assigning mandatory training to first-time offenders who are 18 years old or younger.
As a co-sponsor of the bill said,
There are too many kids who are getting themselves into serious trouble for adolescent behavior. I don't know if they should be tainted with this evil brush for the rest of their lives.
I hope I'm able to teach my kids that sexting is a bad idea, but parents can't control everything. (Sadly.) I think the bill is a good idea, because if anyone deserves a second chance for a dumb decision, it's a minor. Now, as for Mr. Weiner? You, sir, knew better.
What do you think about the proposed teen sexting bill?
Image via Flickr/Sweet Evie