Nearly 20 states have enacted new laws, or are working on measures that deal with teenage sexting, aimed at treating children more leniently than adults.
The Wall Street Journal reports Arizona, Connecticut, Louisiana and Illinois are among the states that enacted laws this year. Many of the new rules impose only modest penalties, such as small fines and short stints in juvenile detention, instead of prison terms and a cameo on the sex offender registry.
Across the nation, lawmakers and child advocates are struggling with the issues: Should they hammer teens, or let parents and schools handle sexting incidents?
One in five teens admits to “sexting,” according to a survey by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.
In the last year, sexting incidents have been reported at Forest Park High School in Clayton County, The Lovett School in Buckhead, and Liberty Middle School in Forsyth County, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
Georgia law doesn’t specifically address sexting, and under child pornography laws, a teen could be charged with either a misdemeanor or a felony. A new statute does give teenagers the chance to appeal to a judge to get their names off the sex offender registry.