State lawmakers want to revise 'sexting' laws for teen offenders - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

State lawmakers want to revise 'sexting' laws for teen offenders

By Morgan Thomas - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) – Currently, snapping and texting nude photos of someone under 18 means jail time. To authorities, child porn is child porn.

It doesn't matter if the sender and recipient are also underage.

"A person convicted of possession or promotion of child pornography maybe required to register for life as a sex offender," said Det. J.B. Smith with Lufkin P.D. 

That's a long time for teens just starting out in life.  Understanding that making mistakes is part of growing up, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and State Senator Kirk Watson are proposing changes to state law that would make the felony a misdemeanor for teen offenders.

"Unfortunately our laws have not really kept up with technology and frankly they haven't kept up with our teenagers," said Watson.

A change in the law would give prosecutors more flexibility, and teenagers would likely not ave to register as a sex offender afterward.

Lufkin I.S.D. hasn't reported any sexting cases this year, but that doesn't mean it isn't happening. The teenage trend is taken very seriously in East Texas schools.

Students on both the sending and receiving end of these racy texts may not realize how far the photos can travel.

"As far as where this piece of information could end up- it could end up on the Internet, it could end up in the future employer's hands," said Julie McManus, Director of Counseling, Lufkin H.S. 

Despite no reports of sexting on campus, McManus says the school is ready to step-in to help students.

Back in Austin, that's also what legislators say is pushing the new provision.

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