Abbott Proposes Bill to Change Penalty For Teenage 'Sexting'

The state attorney general is supporting a bill to change 'sexting' between teenagers from a felony to a misdemeanor. The bill also calls for better education for teens on the dangers of using cell phones to send sexually explicit pictures or messages. David Pitman has more.

Under current Texas law, teenagers who send nude pictures of themselves or someone else would face third-degree felony charges of trafficking child pornography.  And, if convicted, would have to serve time in a state prison and register as a sex offender for life.

State Attorney General Greg Abbott says he can't recall any teens actually being prosecuted under that law.  But it's happened in other states.  And Abbott says there's no reason why teenagers should have their lives ruined over sexting.

He's endorsing a bill introduced this week by Democratic State Representative Kirk Watson of Austin.  It would change sexting for a first-time underage violator from a felony to a class-c misdemeanor.  Teens could have their convictions wiped from the record after completing a court-ordered education program, along with their parents.

School districts would also be required to enlighten teens on why sexting is a bad idea.  Those programs would be developed and paid for with money that's already in the state budget.

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David Pitman

Local Host, Morning Edition

The one question David hears most often isn't "What is it like to work for an NPR member station?" or "Have you ever met Terry Gross?" (he has)...