A New Jersey legislator is moving forward with a bill to reform state “sexting” laws for juveniles who send nude pictures of themselves to other teens.Under current New Jersey statutes, this behavior can be punished with serious indictable offenses, including child pornography. But according to NJ.com, Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt has proposed a measure that would allow for an education program instead of prosecution in cases like these.
The bill would only apply in cases approved by a juvenile court, where the teen did not know it was against the law, and a judge thinks he or she would be helped by the program, and unlikely to cause a problem in the future.
Most people understand that laws against the distribution of nude photos of minors are designed to protect kids against sexual predators, not to prosecute teens for stupid behavior. But the law hasn’t caught up with a technological world where every adolescent has a camera and a transmission device attached to their bodies at all times. Fortunately, many states are looking to reform their sexting laws to account for these circumstances.
The education program alternative would presumably not apply if a judge thought that there was coercion or other credible threats made as part of the distribution of the photos. But teens should not be faced with prison time and sexual offender registration that could destroy a future, just for foolish, impulsive, or hormone driven adolescent behavior.