U.S. House Passes Bill that Would Subject Teen Sexters to 15 Years’ Mandatory Minimum

This article by Elizabeth Nolan Brown at Reason (a site I write for, too) is a must-read:

House Overwhelmingly Supports Bill Subjecting Teen Sexters to 15 Years in Federal Prison

Nolan writes (boldface mine):

Teens who text each other explicit images could be subject to 15 years in federal prison under a new bill that just passed the House of Representatives. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), ranking member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, has called the measure “deadly and counterproductive.”

“While the bill is well intended, it is overbroad in scope and will punish the very people it indicates it is designed to protect: our children,” Lee said during a House floor debate over the bill.

God save our kids from this kind of protection.

One vocal critic was Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Virginia), who called the legislation “particularly appalling” because it would “apply to people who I think we should all agree should not be subject” to long mandatory minimums….

What’s more, “the law explicitly states that the mandatory minimums will apply equally to an attempt or a conspiracy,” Scott noted:

That means if a teenager attempts to obtain a photo of sexually explicit conduct by requesting it from his teenage girlfriend, the judge must sentence that teenager to prison for at least 15 years for making such an attempt.

You can read the article for the rationale behind this insane law that even criminalizes ASKING for a sext.

Basically, the fed bungled prosecution of one egregious case, wherein a 19-year-old repeatedly molested a 7-year-old neighbor. He’d taken one photo of the child, and that photo should have served as proof of his crime. Instead, the prosecution decided to try  him for producing child porn, and the case fell through. So this law adds to the prosecutor’s arsenal. And obscenely:

[A]mendments aimed at fixing the most problematic parts of the bill—its reliance on mandatory minimum sentencing schemes and its failure to exclude minors trading photos with other minors from child-porn prosecutions—were both voted down.

Our elected reps voted DOWN a chance to NOT ruin the lives of young people? Lovely.

A Reason commenter posted a letter I intend to pretty much copy and send to my senators and then, if necessary, the president. Here’s a shortened version:

Dear President Trump,

I writing to urge you to veto the Protecting Against Child Exploitation Act of 2017. This bill sets a horrible precedent to expand federal powers and institute cruel and unusual punishments for teens texting pictures of themselves….

I would remind you that kids will be kids. Technology has given young people the ability to do things that nearly all Congressmen could not do when they were young– easily take pictures and videos. This law would send kids to prison for 15+ years for pictures and videos of themselves or their peers….

We are a strange, twisted country, where our leaders think nothing of ruining young peoples’ lives, either because they are angry that teens have sex, or scared to vote against a bill with the words “Child Exploitation” in it. – L

.

You look great! See you when I get out at age 32!

.

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42 Responses to U.S. House Passes Bill that Would Subject Teen Sexters to 15 Years’ Mandatory Minimum

  1. Artyom June 4, 2017 at 10:11 am #

    Have you considered immigrating to Mexico? If this continues, the Mexicans will have to build a wall. Also, why the hell are Americans so neurotic about the idea if sex?
    I don’t get this, 15 years is what you get for first degree murder in a lot of European countries.

  2. Artyom June 4, 2017 at 10:24 am #

    Again, I just saw my mistakes. I’m sorry, I’m on my phone and the mix between small keys and autocorrect does not help writing correctly.

  3. AmyP June 4, 2017 at 10:31 am #

    When taking the sentences others receive into context this is even worse. I saw a story the other day of a school cop who coerced a middle school teenage girl to give him oral sex on campus over the course of the school year. He received no jail time. After he finishes his five year probation the conviction will be removed from his record and at no point will he have to register as a sex offender. Since there weren’t pictures I guess even after this is passed if it is, there would need not be a long sentence. My own story was that I was molested by my father from the ages of six to ten pretty much daily. He did this to another girl as well. He served a few years. But we want to give 15 years to teenagers willingly sending pictures to their boyfriends? I understand the frustration when it comes to discretion in sentencing, but we elect and appoint judges to use it to ensure all facts are taken into account. Some judges make bad choices, but mandatory minimums is not the way to go. When that happens it ruins people for committing what shouldn’t be a crime or what is so small a crime it doesn’t deserve to be severely punished.

  4. SKL June 4, 2017 at 10:45 am #

    After a quick scan of the source document, I have a couple comments.

    1) The bill speaks of “sexually explicit conduct.” Why are we assuming a mere photograph of body parts constitutes “sexually explicit conduct”?

    2) How do you conclude that this applies to minors any more than any other law? We have a separate system for juvenile offenders. I thought mandatory sentences apply to people who are tried as adults. (I’m sure Donna can provide clarity on this as it’s her area of expertise.)

    So maybe they declined to include protections for minors texting nude photos of themselves, because this law doesn’t apply to those situations in the first place?

  5. Artyom June 4, 2017 at 11:26 am #

    @SKL With plenty of cases of 10 and 11 year olds being tried as adults, the risk of this being used the same was is not too small. Also, there were cases where pictures of a girlfriend trying on bikinis was considered sexually explicit. Don’t make the mistake of applying logic, we’re talking about the bible belt.

    Considering this cruel and unusual punishment does rather suggest a lack of imagination, but it is true that 15 years in prison is way over the top. We’ve had a case of 5th graders sending nude photos to each other, and I really doubt that prison is the right answer to 9 or 10 year olds messing around.

    Anyways, it might help to make parents realize when not to call the authorities.
    The one question I have is: How would any case of kids sending pictures get before a court anyways?

  6. Caiti June 4, 2017 at 11:39 am #

    As the mother of a normal 8 year old boy, this scares the shit out of me. At 8 he has no interest in sex whatsoever. We are still in the poop joke stage . With the teen years ahead of us, I guess I’ll have to restrict him to using a turn-of-the-century cell phone? Or move? Our jails will be full of kids, with our caste system playing out on this stage.

  7. James Pollock June 4, 2017 at 12:21 pm #

    “1) The bill speaks of “sexually explicit conduct.” Why are we assuming a mere photograph of body parts constitutes “sexually explicit conduct”?”

    The bill doesn’t seem to have a definition of “sexually explicit conduct”. However, if you look up the federal definition of “child pornography” which can be found at 18 USC 2256(2) , you’ll find that it’s pretty expansive.

    (A) Except as provided in subparagraph (B), “sexually explicit conduct” means actual or simulated—
    (i) sexual intercourse, including genital-genital, oral-genital, anal-genital, or oral-anal, whether between persons of the same or opposite sex;
    (ii) bestiality;
    (iii) masturbation;
    (iv) sadistic or masochistic abuse; or
    (v) lascivious exhibition of the genitals or pubic area of any person;
    (B) For purposes of subsection 8(B) [1] of this section, “sexually explicit conduct” means—
    (i) graphic sexual intercourse, including genital-genital, oral-genital, anal-genital, or oral-anal, whether between persons of the same or opposite sex, or lascivious simulated sexual intercourse where the genitals, breast, or pubic area of any person is exhibited;
    (ii) graphic or lascivious simulated;
    (I) bestiality;
    (II) masturbation; or
    (III) sadistic or masochistic abuse; or
    (iii) graphic or simulated lascivious exhibition of the genitals or pubic area of any person.

  8. Mike June 4, 2017 at 1:17 pm #

    I never thought I’d agree with notorious idiot Rep Lee on anything, but it just happened. A unicorn must have jumped over a blue moon.

    Snide aside, if the law had passed it would be used. Sure its proponents could claim “we just need another tool for the really bad cases”, but that’s not reality. Prosecutors prosecute. That’s literally what they do. If there’s proof that a teen sent a text “yo show me yo titties”, boom, instant conviction. 15 years in the slammer? Not the prosecutor’s problem, he got a win and that’s all that counts.

    We, citizens, need to continually monitor what power we give to government, because the laws we champion will be used against us.

  9. Papilio June 4, 2017 at 2:50 pm #

    Oh sure. Of course. Just throw them in jail because they asked for a naughty pic. Put them on the SOR for life while you’re at it, cuz why not, right? Heck, just put them down at 18, they don’t have a life anymore anyway.

    “We are a strange, twisted country, where our leaders think nothing of ruining young peoples’ lives, either because they are angry that teens have sex, or scared to vote against a bill with the words “Child Exploitation” in it.”

    Yes, that.

    I feel like strangling someone.

  10. Jennifer C June 4, 2017 at 3:25 pm #

    I am not a fan of mandatory minimums in the first place, and the idea of a fifteen-year sentence for a teen sending a dirty picture of themselves is just insane. I’m proud that Bobby Scott is my representative and that he is against this nonsense.

  11. BL June 4, 2017 at 3:58 pm #

    ‘The bill doesn’t seem to have a definition of “sexually explicit conduct”’

    They know it when they see it.

  12. donald June 4, 2017 at 4:56 pm #

    What the world needs now is more HATE! We can stamp out all the hate in this world if we would only hate it enough! If somebody proposes any sex offender law, I’ll support it. I don’t even need to read it I hate sex offenders so much!

  13. donald June 4, 2017 at 6:42 pm #

    A big argument against underage sex is that until kids reach 18 years old, their brain isn’t fully developed. They aren’t actually capable of comprehending the magnitude of the potential consequences. However, these same people say that children as young as 12 are mature enough to understand that underage sexting is illegal and therefore they deserve to feel the full brunt of the law. If they get labeled as a sex offender than who cares if the over-reaction destroys their lives? They’re a sex offender. They don’t deserve to live anyway!

    No. Sorry I take that back. They’re not thinking of this because they’re not thinking of anything. They only want to lash out.

  14. Donna June 4, 2017 at 7:50 pm #

    “How do you conclude that this applies to minors any more than any other law?”

    It doesn’t. Except in the respect that it is not even remotely uncommon for minors to know other minors well enough to ask for and receive naked pictures.

    “We have a separate system for juvenile offenders. I thought mandatory sentences apply to people who are tried as adults.”

    We do have a separate system for juvenile offenders and this mandatory sentence does only apply to people who are tried as adults. However, juveniles are tried as adults for various crimes regularly. If a prosecutor decides to try a juveniles as an adult for this crime, said juvenile would be subject to the 15 year mandatory minimum.

    Further, the age of majority for both porn and being an adult criminally is 18 (at least in federal court). Meaning that if an 18 year old high school senior is charged under this statute for asking his 17 and 364 days old high school senior girlfriend to make a video of them having sex he would receive the mandatory minimum of 15 years, despite the fact that the sex act itself is perfectly legal in most states (and subject to a lower penalty in some of the states where not fully legal).

    That said, this is a federal statute. The feds are, as a general rule, not inserting themselves into matters of teen sexting. The feds are not going to take it upon themselves to investigate teen sexting cases, nor is this a case that state prosecutors are going to try to kick to the feds. It would be highly unlikely to come to the attention of federal prosecutors unless the sext was discovered as part of a separate federal investigation (eg. the teen in question also happened to be trafficking cocaine or running guns or viewing lots of actual child porn).

  15. Theresa June 4, 2017 at 8:18 pm #

    As much people say kids know all the and stuff including the laws that go with it, dream on! Most kids know how have sex and that about it. There was a boy who thought if you did it standing up no baby,he learned the hard way not true. A girl thought only one time and nine months later here comes baby.

  16. Dawn June 4, 2017 at 11:03 pm #

    I’d like to say “About time”. But a minimum of 15 years in prison as punishment is way overboard. Isn’t it supposed to be based on the severity of the crime. Sexting is a product of modern technology and poor judgment. For teenagers, it is a trend. Another medium to “fit in”. Keep in mind that the victim here is not just the subject of the sexting (sexually explicit messages, pictures or videos) but sometimes also the person who shared the material. These are teens, barely adults and need constant supervision. With poor judgment, their actions can scar them for life. Imagine a teen boy asking a girlfriend for a sexy picture. This attempt can land him to federal prison for at least 15 years. This is mind-blowing considering some appaling offenses only get minor convictions. Juveniles need disciplinary actions for minor offenses and not robbing them a quarter of their life behind bars.

  17. 衣皇后 June 5, 2017 at 4:21 am #

    相当精彩的博客!

  18. Workshop June 5, 2017 at 10:28 am #

    Mike hit the nail on the head. When Representative Sheila Jackson Lee sounds reasonable, something is wrong with the world.

  19. Papilio June 5, 2017 at 12:03 pm #

    “With poor judgment, their actions can scar them for life.”

    Ehm… The only reason asking for a sext is scarring them for life is because of this punishment, NOT because of the act *itself* (or not so much anyway). Of course you can do real damage with nude pics when you share them with third parties without consent of whoever’s in the picture, I’m not claiming it’s always completely innocent. Still…

    I read this kind of remark quite often, last week or so about how teens ‘did something stupid’ or ‘made a mistake’ because they were just under the age of consent and decided to have sex. Oh no! So dumb! But ehm… Is it dumb in and of itself? What’s the actual harm? Have they thought about it? Did both parties agree this was what they wanted? Did they do it safely? Or is it only considered dumb because the law contains this arbitrairy number that declares them too young?
    Am I the only one who feels like distinguishing the natural consequences from the artificial (legal) ones? Because the artificial ones often just make everything waaaaay worse (if there even was a problem to begin with!) and sort of muddy the waters when we try to decide what’s okay and what isn’t?
    Is about 1/3 of teens unreasonable for having sex or is the law unreasonable deciding for them that they can’t, at all? Who’s crazy? Why do the people in power think that saying no to something that seemingly EVERYONE in society does and enjoys is easier than doing it with certain reasonable precautions?

    Sorry, just some thoughts 🙂

    @Theresa: Hence the need for comprehensive sex ed.

  20. fred schueler June 5, 2017 at 12:55 pm #

    doesn’t the US Constitution call that “cruel and unusual punishment”?

  21. Miriam Drukker June 5, 2017 at 1:02 pm #

    I’m against the law.

    Then again, many people who are against it, are going into the wrong direction (IMHO), implying “everybody does that” and “it’s not a big deal”. There is a (HUGE) difference between expressing your sexuality (either by suggestions, flirtations or even being sexually active) and documenting it.

    Both needs are very basic and not new. On the one hand – the need for privacy, security, intimacy in relationships and genuine connection. On the other hand – the need of being acknowledged, heard, accepted and loved by society. The thrill of being exposed.

    The problem is that technology allows kids to have a very powerful tool in their hands, while there wasn’t enough ‘social’ time to adjust to it and form social norms and barriers. Because documenting events is so easy and quick – people now often do not differentiate between the event and the documentation. It begins to feel as though documenting is the main thing. The thrill of documentation (and exposure) masks the other, more delicate emotions, of intimacy and connections.

    So norms are changing, but human nature can’t, in its core, change that much that quickly (or at all).

    It’s true that some things did change. In the past people would write a diary and would die if they found out if someone has read it (and it was considered a very very serious no-no to do so, although I don’t think it was ever punishable by law), while today people die (inside) if nobody reads their posts (or someone else has more friends or followers, or there aren’t enough likes or re-tweets etc. etc). And it’s true that many are trying to send more attractive (and provocative) posts so they would feel loved. And maybe people are accepting, emotionally, more exposure without feeling as vulnerable as they did in the past, even if it was the same exposure. But those changes, in our human nature, are not that big. The basics are the same. And we can’t ignore that.

    But there aren’t enough sane, non-fundamentalists, who view this change and are open enough to deal with it in a responsible moral way. To educate from a young age what is appropriate and what isn’t. That watching porn, although common, easy, and accessible, is actually not a good thing, not only for person who is in the clip, but also for the person watching. That experiencing something at the moment is more important and creates empathy and connection, but documenting it is more powerful, thrilling, but possibly a lot less meaningful emotionally, and not as important for building a healthier society.

    And, of course, the other problem is that Americans think that everything can be dealt with through punishments, especially monetary punishments, but any punishment. And that’s simply wrong. We are social beings, and in order to feel part of society we will overcome our urges. We just need to approach this from a different angle. Campaigns. Awareness. Open discussions in schools. Open discussions with parents. No double standards (that it’s acceptable behaviours, it just depends on your gender or age or…).

    Society should take responsibility for what it created.
    Kids should know that documenting yourself or someone you care for is not something to be done lightly. Just like we’re trying to create a world where drinking and driving (or texting and driving) is not socially acceptable, that using a condom is the responsible way to go, because otherwise we are endangering lives for no reason at all, we should add those things to the list. Fines are not working. But slogans, disapproval of society will. And example of adults. It’s not working yet with texting and driving, people are trying the scary ads or the sad ones. But nothing really work, except education from an early age, followed by example. I remember such campaign that did work on me (not picking wild flowers), that as an adult, when I saw someone picking flowers I was screaming “NOOOOOO!” as if they just murdered a baby. I couldn’t control it. And no, I don’t say it to people who text while driving, and I should. I just wasn’t brainwashed with it enough. We need to “brainwash” (responsibly) our society about what is acceptable and how.

    Again, I’m not saying that sexts should be socially banned completely or reserved only to married couples or long term relationships or a certain age. But we need to teach ourselves that it’s serious, if we want to make a better world. Part of it will be by allowing more interaction outside, doing things instead of focusing on making a picture of them.

    Hope I’m clear. Anyways – dealing with a problematic new social phenomenon just by litigation – is definitely not the answer. If it does anything – is probably punish the ones who are not supposed to be punished and creating a counter voice stating “hey – it’s our right to do what we want to do – everybody does it – it’s OK”. It might be true that everybody does it, it still doesn’t mean that it’s OK, because some people are hurt. We need to find out how to define norms that will help our kids understand how powerful this is and that it IS a big deal and be responsible about it.

  22. Norse King June 5, 2017 at 1:13 pm #

    I think it’s pretty clear that the actual intention of this law has nothing whatsoever to do with “protecting” kids. That is simply the term used to “sell” the bill to the people, and to make them agree with it regardless of what it’s actually intended to do, or what it’s consequences end up being (“well, at least their intentions were good! That’s what’s important!”).

    Rep. Lee said the following: “While the bill is well intended, it is overbroad in scope and will punish the very people it indicates it is designed to protect: our children.”

    Firs of all, I highly doubt it was “well-intentioned”; I personally think Rep. Lee knows better, but simply doesn’t want to come down too harshly on her fellow politicians in the House. This law will end up punishing the very people it purports to be intended to “protect” because punishing younger people for any overt example of sexual expression is what it’s actually designed to do.

    Yes, there are all the points made about how such pics can get into many more hands than was intended by the sender, but that is a problem that would have far less negative impact if we as a culture simply opposed shaming younger people (and to some extent, even adult women) for expressing their sexuality, or making it clear they wanted someone to find them attractive in a physical/sexual way. Of course, our society doesn’t want to do that, since it has such a negative attitude towards sexuality in the first place.

    Draconian legislation of this nature always goes after the easiest targets first, and then moves exponentially onto other targets. This whole thing started by criminalizing adults who look at pics of younger people, i.e., punishing them for finding younger people attractive. When this gained widespread acceptance, it was utterly foolish and naive for even the genuinely well-intentioned to think such legislation was going to stop there. Now the purpose of this legislation has become a bit closer to its real intention by moving onto the next target: punishing younger people themselves for creating an actual visual record that they either found another younger person attractive, or wanted to incite a fellow younger person to find them attractive in a way that our culture finds unacceptable.

    So if this bill were to make it through the House and then pass the Senate, and becomes the law of the land, what will the next step be? I shudder to think, but have no doubt about this: there will be further steps from there. Draconian laws never go “only so far,” and our government’s war on youth sexuality and sexual expression in a general sense had long ago gotten out of hand, so it shouldn’t be any surprise that it has now moved onto the next step.

    I am glad, however, to see that there are at least some members of the House, and a lot of other people, who are displaying the courage to oppose this law, even if only some fully see it for what it really is at this juncture. The “consequences” of the law are exactly what those proposing it intended all along.

  23. Theresa June 5, 2017 at 3:54 pm #

    Papiola that would be nice but let face the reality of sex Ed is lacking in most places. If they made it mandatory as reading maybe schools would do better but that will happen when pigs fly.

  24. Craig June 5, 2017 at 4:10 pm #

    I find it ludicrous that two teens can actually have sex legally but if they send pics to each other it’s illegal. Not that I’d encourage them to do either, but it’s almost like saying we’ll arrest you for going 10 over the speed limit, but if you’re doing 50 over it’s not a problem.

    If you want to write a law that makes sense, then make it a crime to SHARE said photos beyond the originally intended audience. So if minor girl A sends a pic to minor boy B, neither of them are breaking the law. If boy B shares them with his friends, uploads them to the web, etc…THEN he should be prosecuted.

    I think society would be shocked at how many teens do this sort of thing. The other thing they would be shocked about is that many of them don’t consider it to be a big deal.

  25. hineata June 5, 2017 at 4:50 pm #

    Few murders here attract that sort of punishment, rather like Europe. And it’s interesting to me that in several states you can get married before age 16, (Maryland was 12 when I happened to read up on this a few years ago) so the Bible Belters know kids have sex.

    Madness. And I agree with you, Papilio, though the natural consequences of sex are a bit of a darn nuisance when they happen to immature teens. Well, babies are all beautiful, but not the best thing for a teenager to be having, sans plenty of support ☺.

  26. EricS June 5, 2017 at 5:03 pm #

    Although, I think there should be something to curb this trend with teens, the bill itself is just terrible. Like many laws passed by government (ie. sex offenders registration), it’s very vague and open to interpretation. And like the sex offenders registration, many are on there that shouldn’t be, and it has ruined many lives when it should have in the first place.

    Min 15 years?? Really? Rapists, killers, molesters, and abusers get much less than that. Why don’t they just say we’ll lobotomize them instead. Cheaper, lasts longer (insert sarcasm). Stupidity at it’s best in government and law makers…again! I bet many of these people making decisions are religious zealots, or stand to make a nice tidy profit through incarcerations. It’s been happening since the 80’s. Private prisons making billions every year. The more people incarcerated, the more money they make. And I’m absolutely certain people in government are getting a nice kick back. Not to get political, Obama closed down some private prisons already. And now Sessions wants to open more up. Money makes the world go round. Greed feeds it.

  27. Debra Grund June 5, 2017 at 5:41 pm #

    Where is the common sense. As I’ve said before, time to vote them out of office

  28. John B. June 5, 2017 at 7:21 pm #

    Oh my word. Goodness, if I’m sexting 14-year-old girls or boys, please, throw handcuffs on me and send me to prison. Why? Because I’m 61-years-old! But please, don’t do that to a 14- or 15-year-old boy or girl.

    Why oh why when it comes to that nasty three letter word (sex) does American culture come unglued when the word “minor” is associated with it? These are teenagers acting out with each other and can’t Americans understand that teenagers are physically mature enough to experience sexual feelings? Ok, punish them accordingly so they learn that acting out sexually in certain ways is not appropriate. But a 15 year minimum and not even allowing a Judge to make a decision based on the particular circumstance of the violation? Please. This is just more American over reaction to “kids and sex” in the same sentence!

    Please keep us informed on how this turns out Lenore.

  29. SKL June 5, 2017 at 7:51 pm #

    Unfortunately it doesn’t seem like most people read the underlying document to see what this is really about.

    The headline here is very misleading. This law is not about teens sexting at all. It’s about sexual abuse of children.

  30. Richard Jones June 5, 2017 at 8:48 pm #

    Feds don’t prosecute juveniles in general and this reaction is an exhibit of worst case first thinking. That being said it’s still a stupid dumb a** bill to make it a federal felony with mandatory sentencing for this type of crime. Since the majority of these incidenst are probably impulsive, there would be little deterrent effect. There are plenty of statues to deal with this problem as it is.

  31. James Pollock June 5, 2017 at 9:23 pm #

    “If you want to write a law that makes sense, then make it a crime to SHARE said photos beyond the originally intended audience.”

    We have that. Ask Gawker about it.

  32. James Pollock June 5, 2017 at 9:24 pm #

    “This law is not about teens sexting at all. It’s about sexual abuse of children.”

    Was sexual abuse of children not illegal already?

  33. Tim June 5, 2017 at 11:17 pm #

    @ Caiti. I’m scared for my child also.

    Mike Johnson, the republican who introduced the bill, defends it by quoting scripture, and thinks the government consists of “God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.” In other words, he is so deluded he thinks he is an “agent of wrath.”

    It sickens me that people like him exist in our government. But it sickens me even more that destructive garbage like this could be passed the House by an overwhelming majority. Children’s lives will be destroyed because of this.

  34. Craig June 5, 2017 at 11:53 pm #

    “These are teenagers acting out with each other and can’t Americans understand that teenagers are physically mature enough to experience sexual feelings?”

    Good Point. People seem to have issues accepting their little babies are becoming sexual beings. New flash people…most all teens are already there. Though I have an 18 year old who I legitimately think has zero interest in anything sexual (or at least hides it really really well), I don’t think that’s the norm. I think some kids discover sexuality as young as 9 or 10 … though i’d say 13-14 is normal.

    I hate that we want on one hand to teach kids that they are in control of their bodies, but if they choose to do something within their control, we want to make it illegal.

  35. Norse King June 6, 2017 at 12:51 am #

    “With poor judgment, their actions can scar them for life.”

    This is related to the fact that our society continues to shame younger people (just as it often still does with adult women) for expressing their sexuality, which is making an acknowledgement of something that our society finds uncomfortable and has set up powerful moralizing standards against. Another commentator in this thread noted there is a difference between expressing sexuality and documenting it, but where this line is drawn can be a blurry one. For instance, the fracas that so many parents and politicians are having over the fact that many younger people are routinely putting up videos on YouTube that, while not usually going over the laws and administrative rules of YouTube, are nevertheless making it clear that they enjoy being admired in a “taboo” way. It can be argued that the sexting phenomena is another example of this, despite the intention of privacy connected to it.

    Yes, we do live in a world of ever-advancing communications technology that should give us pause and consideration with the ease that pictures and videos can be shared with literally millions of people in an instant. However, it’s common for people of all ages to use whatever has passed for such technology at any given time to make public documentation of their attractiveness. The “scarring for life” issue would be far less of an issue if only we ceased our moralizing shaming of sexual expression, which includes the documentation of it. By continuing to consider it something shameful, then we as a society not only create the emotional scar tissue that some younger people may suffer from if pics and vids of this nature intended to be private, but also for pictures and videos that they may want to share with the public via social media outlets like Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, YouTube, etc. Further, and perhaps most importantly, such shaming and moralizing opens the door for politicians to initiate draconian legislation of this sort.

  36. sexhysteria June 6, 2017 at 1:26 am #

    It’s not just the U.S. The American-inspired hysteria over child porn is spreading to Europe as well.

  37. Annie Gramson Hill June 6, 2017 at 8:00 am #

    Where will this madness take us a nation? I’m afraid we are heading into much darker territory.

  38. Resident Iconoclast June 6, 2017 at 9:53 am #

    There are two noteworthy news bits in the story:

    1. Only fifty-three democrats voted against this bill;
    2. We now have a “highest ranking, unregistered sex offender” in the White House.

    This is a bipartisan war on your kids, and more evidence that your country is ruled by a military junta.

  39. Mark Roulo June 6, 2017 at 12:12 pm #

    Texting explicit images: 15 years in jail. Minimum.

    Beat someone to death and are found guilty of “criminally negligent homicide”: 6 months in a “secure residential program” (not jail).

    Sounds reasonable.

    https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2017/06/06/delaware-teen-fatal-school-bathroom-fight-sentence/373122001/

  40. Library Momma June 6, 2017 at 2:17 pm #

    I just emailed my senators about this bill and hope they will listen, but at least one of them is notoriously “tough” on crime. I hope that the senate takes out the part of this bill that targets minors for sending and receiving compromising pictures of themselves. But I have a sickening feeling that it will pass as it is.

    My son is 13 and has a flip phone, but eventually he will buy his own smart phone, so I’m just going to tell him to NEVER send a picture of any part of his body other than his face and only then if he is fully clothed, just in case

    How can our kids avoid receiving pictures? Maybe someone will develop and app that scans incoming pictures and deletes them if too much skin is detected before they’re downloaded onto the phone. Otherwise, anyone with a vendetta against a boy or girl can ruin their lives by sending these types of pictures and then claim they were coerced.

  41. CAWS June 7, 2017 at 6:51 am #

    This is so wrong. Mandatory sentencing is wrong. These are dumb kids full of hormones not pedophiles. But hey we’ve got to keep the corrupt private prison system filled up with slaves for the corpocracy . Bet none of these senator’s kids will go to jail.

  42. Papilio June 7, 2017 at 4:05 pm #

    @Hineata: “though the natural consequences of sex are a bit of a darn nuisance when they happen to immature teens. Well, babies are all beautiful, but not the best thing for a teenager to be having, sans plenty of support ☺.”

    That would be a natural consequence of *unprotected* sex. (And not even unprotected as in, no-condom-but-with-birth-control-pills, but unprotected as in, no condom, no birth control pill, or patch, or injection, no IUD, no morning-after pill, AND no abortion.)
    Is having *unprotected* sex ‘something stupid’/’a mistake’? Yes. Yes, it most definitely is.