There was a good editorial in the Journal News about the state legislature’s efforts to reform Ohio’s child pornography laws to account for teen “sexting”. Under existing statutes, a teen possessing a sexually explicit photo of his girlfriend sent to his phone or computer could be charges with felony possession of child pornography and convicted as a sex offender.While teen sexting is not something that should be encouraged or supported, most people understand the distinction between inappropriate (and stupid) teen behavior, and predatory adults taking advantage of children. It simply isn’t the same thing.
In today’s world when every teen has a camera on his or her cell phone, this kind of behavior is bound to happen.
But that doesn’t mean, a young person’s life should be destroyed.
The sexting laws reform effort in Ohio seeks to add a misdemeanor criminal option in these cases, and emphasize education about the consequences of distributing illicit photos of one’s self or others. The felony sex offense law would of course remain on the books, and could still be used to prosecute juveniles if the circumstances warranted the more severe charge.
But it would be a reasonable measure, and a nod to reality to give Ohio prosecutors a less onerous option, to teach kids a lesson, but not destroy their futures for adolescent bad behavior.
More on sexting laws.