Legislation falsely claims to “decriminalize” teen sexting

Headlines claim, “N.J. Legislation Would Decriminalize ‘Sexting’ by Teens,” but only for some teens:

Only juveniles who have no prior record, were unaware their actions constituted a criminal offense and are likely to be deterred from future offenses by completing the program would be eligible.

To choose an education program over a child pornography prosecution, teens must apparently prove ignorance of the law and convince someone that education would set them straight. This sounds like the criminal justice opt-out program that already exists: kids who have expensive legal representation (and/or class/race credibility) can prove they are “good” and reformable to avoid incarceration.

This bill unfortunately fails to address the fact that it is still legal (in most states) for two 17-year-olds to have sex, but  illegal for them to photograph it. Until this legal tension is resolved, I think we’ll continue to see such unfair legal band-aids as this one.

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