Underage "sexting" is now illegal in Pennsylvania.
Or at least it will be soon, according the The Associated Press.
Pennsylvania state senators have approved a bill which would make it a crime for juveniles to send sexually explicit photos of themselves to other minors.
This bill would penalize those under the age of 17 who were caught sexting. The offense could be as light as a summary offense or could be written as a misdemeanor depending on the exact facts and circumstances.
Higher penalties would be in place for those caught cyberbullying through sexting. For example, a youth sending nude photos of another youth without his or her consent, with the intent to coerce, intimidate or harass the other youth, would garner a greater punishment.
Other aspects of this bill relate to the protection of children from sexual exploitation. If a minor is caught sexting a nude photo of a child under the age of 12, there could be steeper penalties.
There aren't too many sexting laws, despite the fact that the transmission of nude photographs of children is illegal under child pornography laws.
While there has been discussion on how to apply such child porn "sexting" laws to adults, there have been few, if any laws, relating to the sexting of minors' photos by minors, themselves.
The new Pennsylvania bill tackles many issues. The law addresses important child sex abuse issues and juvenile delinquency. But most importantly, the law has a prominent cyberbullying aspect, making it illegal for teens to cyberbully through sexting.
The cyberbullying aspect of the law and the steeper punishments for kids engaged in these acts will be interesting to watch over the coming years. Numerous states have been struggling with cyberbullying laws and this new bill from the Pennsylvania legislature could have interesting consequences.
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