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April 17, 2016

"Colorado 8th-graders caught sexting could have to register as sex offenders"

The title of this post is the headline of this notable press report which helps highlight why so many juvenile justice advocates are so concerned about the broad reach of modern sex offender laws and registries. Here are the details:

Three Colorado middle and high schools were rocked by a string of recent underage sexting scandals, prompting police investigations. If charged, the teens involved in the case — some as young as eighth-graders — could face charges of child pornography, which would require them to register as sex offenders if convicted.

The stiff penalties for sexting has sparked a debate in Colorado and other state assemblies over whether misbehaving teens should face the same punishment as child pornographers. But efforts by the Colorado Legislature to lighten the penalties have stalled.

In the sexting case at Bear Creek, a K-8 school in Lakewood, the five students involved were in eighth grade. School leaders turned to the local police after discovering that nude photos were being circulated, The Denver Post reported. Meanwhile, Colorado Springs police were contacted last Wednesday about allegations that a partially nude photo was shared among a circle of students from two other Colorado schools, Pine Creek High School and Challenger Middle School, according to KRDO news.

At this point, no charges have been filed in any of the cases, but the Pine Creek and Challenger school cases have been handed over to the Fourth Judicial District Attorney’s Office. The juveniles involved could be hit with a felony sex offender charge.

Penalties for underage sexting vary from state to state. In Colorado, minors caught trading nude photos are legally susceptible to harsh child pornography charges. It’s one reason why the Legislature has been working toward a solution to reduce possible sentencing for teens who sext. The latest bill to reach the Legislature would reduce charges for minors to a misdemeanor, echoing the laws of 11 other states. But a vote on the Colorado measure stalled in a House committee last week. Lawmakers against the measure were primarily concerned that, while it would be good to reduce potential child pornography charges for sexters, the bill was still too harsh on kids sending nude images.

State Representative Yeulin Willet, who cosponsored the bill, says that the misdemeanor charge did not go too far. He argued that the juvenile petty offense that the bill introduced accounts legally for "virtually no crime at all" and "basically just takes that juvenile into some counseling or education, end of story."... "To say that this is a victimless situation is just not a fact," he said. "These images get stolen, hacked, now they end up in the hands of thousands or more via digital media, and now you have a suicidal young girl."

But Jennifer Eyl, director of family stability programs at the Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center, says that even the misdemeanor charge was too harsh. It criminalized the behavior of sexting itself, even consensual sexual behavior between teens, she said, rather than targeting the issue of non-consensual spreading of nude images. "It’s really kind of this blanket prevention of sexting, which, we work with kids, we just know that that’s not going to happen. Sexting is part of 21st-century communication between teenagers," she said. Eyl also expressed concerns that the most vulnerable children — in the foster system or without strong parental involvement — were particularly susceptible to blanket charges because foster parents might be more inclined to involve police should they find nude photos.

A few prior related posts:

April 17, 2016 at 08:16 AM | Permalink


Get rid of the registry for EVERYONE, problem solved!

Posted by: kat | Apr 17, 2016 9:33:15 AM

"rather than targeting the issue of non-consensual spreading of nude images."

What does she propose, banning the internet? Banning the cell phone? As the saying goes, once it's on the internet one can't get it back.

Moreover, there is a much deeper problem with the whole idea of "non-consensual" since for the most part everything teens do is in a certain sense legally non-consensual because they haven't reached the age of majority. So how, pray tell, is she going to determine who lacks consent to spread the images?

Posted by: Daniel | Apr 17, 2016 11:40:26 AM

Makes perfect sense to me, an 8th grader registered as a sex offenders for all the local perps to hit on.

What could be more organized and ready made. Really....Really..

Posted by: MidWestGuy | Apr 17, 2016 4:15:56 PM

"hey she's cool ... she's on a sex registry!"

Posted by: Joe | Apr 17, 2016 7:12:36 PM

Use J. Swift’s A Modest Proposal ; problem solved •

Posted by: Docile Jim Brady „ the Nemo Me ♠ Impune Lacessit ♂ in Oregon ‼ | Apr 18, 2016 8:36:07 AM

“Nudity” is not necessarily “pornographic” •

¿ What if age 17.31416 years art student Olweed Sigguns is the spitting image of David and poses for a painting or portrait or sculpture by age 17.2718 years art student Meadu Freckitt ; both of whom are seniors and have already been awarded a full scholarship by a college of art & design ?

Posted by: Docile Jim Brady „ the Nemo Me ♠ Impune Lacessit ♂ in Oregon ‼ | Apr 18, 2016 8:50:30 AM

kat | Apr 17, 2016 9:33:15 AM: Americans do not support the Registries. Americans should identify the people that do and do anything and everything that is legal to lower the quality of their lives. They are not my fellow Americans, they are harassing terrorists that will be controlled.

Posted by: FRegistryTerrorists | Apr 18, 2016 6:29:59 PM

Would looking be constitutional? I find it out that courts and prosecutors have upheld or try to consider upholding, prosecuting teenagers for taking photos of themselves, is looking at themselves a crime? The supreme court has upheld CP laws, rightfully so, but in the wrong way, rather in my opinion, CP laws should be sentenced more civilly and criminally as a copyright infringement or rather the child was unable to consent to distribute based on his or her age.

In america, most folks don't consider it a problem for an adult male or female to be nude with the same-sex in the locker room or spa, granted there are other folks around to avoid a problem,but its a hypocrisy, since we as a society consider it okay to atleast look at though perhaps not with an inappropriate wink same-sex nudity,opposite sex nudity is forbidden since men and women are attracted to eachother but what about homosexuals?

Granted, I am not the moral police, buts its somewhat logically inconsistent,especially if a paper like slate, tries to shut down an alternate view of locker room nudity, if people are uncomfortable being in the nude gym.

Posted by: pat hunt | Jun 4, 2016 4:41:01 AM

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