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State Legislation Aims To Better Prosecute ‘Sexting’

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A couple embrace as they take a photograph of themselves. (credit: Daniel Sorabji/AFP/Getty Images)

A couple embrace as they take a photograph of themselves. (credit: Daniel Sorabji/AFP/Getty Images)

AUSTIN (KRLD) - Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is throwing his support behind a bill filed in the state legislature aimed at stopping sexting.

Right now the only way to prosecute teens for sending sexually explicit pictures and videos, via text message, is under existing child pornography laws.

Abbott says punishment under those laws really don’t fit the crime, thus leaving the problem unregulated. “There’s also an apprehension about not undertaking any prosecution activity, knowing that you’re not stopping a problem, by not prosecuting it,” he said.

Austin Democratic Senator Kirk Watson, who filed the legislation along with Abbott, says his bill also includes educating teens about sexting. “Part of what we’re attempting to do is make it where there’s not a need for prosecution, because we do a better job in Texas of taking care of our young people,” said Watson.

If passed, the bill would classify sexting as a Class “c” Misdemeanor for first-time violators under the age of 18. New punishment also would not require lifelong sex offender registration, like current law does.

Watson’s proposal could also land parents in sexting education classes right along with their kids. “The judge has discretion under certain circumstances to require both parents and the children to attend certain sorts of educational activity and can even require them to pay for it if the judge determines they have the ability to pay,” he said of the proposed bill.

If approved, Senate Bill 407 could go into effect as soon as September.

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