Vermont lawmakers reconfigured state child-pornography law so that “that minors caught sexting would not be charged with a felony and forced to register as sex offenders, so long as the incident was done voluntarily and without coercion,” the Washington Times reports (I mentioned this earlier when a House vote was still pending). The Times adds that Utah and Ohio are considering similar tweaks. Prosecutors in some states, though, have decided that keeping the possibility of criminal charges for teens on the table is a good prevention measure. Some experts agree because they say sexting can be an element in teen dating violence, in which case malicious or criminal intent can be a factor. So sexting needs to be handled on a case-by-case basis, Carolyn Atwell-Davis, director of legislative affairs at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, told the Times. The only problem there is when a sexting case involving bad judgment, not malicious intent (for example this one in Pennsylvania, probably), gets into the hands of a prosecutor who doesn’t have the kids’ best interests at heart! Here’s a commentary on this in the Los Angeles Times by David Walsh of the National Institute on Media and the Family.
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