Georgia teens sending sexually explicit images in text messages can face felony criminal charges, jail time, and a lifetime as a registered sex offender just for sending or even receiving a photo from a boyfriend or girlfriend. That’s the message from this news report.
Can we take a moment to acknowledge that this is actually insane?
The attorney interviewed, who is selling a book on a Teenager’s Guide to Georgia Law, explains how there are no legal exceptions to even consensual teen sexting, where no one is harmed or coerced. The story is designed to terrify parents, and it will no doubt succeed!
The implications of a felony sex offense conviction can truly ruin a person’s life. As outlined in the article, being classified as a sex offender can result in not being able to go to college, and hugely restrict job opportunities, and countless other life-altering consequences.
Everyone can acknowledge that it is a foolish and terrible idea for teens to share nude or explicit images of themselves. There are lots of
But there is such a thing as making the punishment fit the crime.
Many states are enacted sexting reform efforts, to create lesser offenses for juveniles in these situations. Judges and prosecutors faced with teen sexting allegations should have the option of dealing with these matters in juvenile court, where misdemeanor criminal offenses can potentially be sealed in juvenile records, instead of following a person for life.
These outdated sex offender laws are designed to protect people from predatory adults circulating child pornography, not teens impulsively exploring their sexuality.
If it is true that up to 25% of teens admit to sending or receiving a sexual text message, does that mean we think that all these kids should rightly be classified with dangerous sexual predators?
We shouldn’t just accept laws that are absurd and outdated with the realty of the intersection of normal teen behavior and technology. It is time for these laws to be reformed.