Some lawmakers don't think teens who are caught “sexting” deserve child pornography charges.
The Illinois House Thursday voted 114 – 1 against convicting teen “sexters” as kiddie porn peddlers, thus sparing them having to register as sex offenders, the Sun-Times reports.
The rules would ease stiff penalties against unwitting photo collectors.
But that doesn’t mean they want to completely let teens off the hook if they’re caught passing around naked pictures of other teens.
“We still have the ability to prosecute those whose intent is to create child pornography even if they’re under 18,” says Representative Darlene Senger (R-Naperville) who is sponsoring a measure that would punish teen violators with softer penalties like community service or court-ordered supervision. “However, if you’re just doing something because you think it’s a prank, we can explain why this isn’t funny.”
Senger says the problem is kids are just not aware that when they engage in “sexting” or sending naked pictures of themselves to a boyfriend or girlfriend, that picture may get passed around to others or that laws are being broken, according to the Sun-Times.
“The goal of this legislation is creating awareness,” she said. “Parents are very concerned with what’s going on with cell phone cameras. Kids are being bullied. Girls are committing suicide because of what’s going on.”
The legislation now moves to the Illinois Senate.