Does New Anti-Sexting Legislation Criminalize Kids?

Recently, the U.S. House of Representatives approved H.R.1761, also known as the “Protecting Against Child Exploitation Act of 2017,” which builds on current law that makes teen-to-teen sexting a crime.

This new legislation supposedly aims to close “loopholes” in current child pornography legislation. But a recent article revealed that the bill could have teens facing 15 years for trying to sext. Second-time offenders would be fined and imprisoned for up to 50 years.

While it is important to protect our children from predators and those seeking to exploit them, it is also important that we communicate with children the consequences of sharing inappropriate or sexual content. Criminalizing them isn’t the answer.

While the legislation was supported by many in congress, it was opposed by dozens of others, including Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), ranking member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime. Lee, in the article, called the bill “deadly and counterproductive,” and commented during a House debate over the issue, “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…”

Learn more about the legislation here.