Prosecutors, child advocates in favor of teen sexting bill

It’s something your teen may have already done and could be charged with a felony for: sexting.

The Kentucky Senate passed a bill that could protect teens from being charged with a felony after sending or receiving nude photos or videos. Prosecutors and child advocates say the bill could give teens the second chance they need.

When teenagers enter the courtroom, Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Meredith Clymer says her job is to protect the victims, but the victims are sometimes on both sides of the courtroom.

"The little people, they’re going to grow up. We’ve got to teach them now," Clymer says.

Juvenile court is confidential. Because of that, Clymer says many don’t realize how common sexting cases are. Clymer says juvenile court is designed to rehabilitate teens and children, so she supports the sexting bill. She says she’ll have to wait to see exactly how it will work in the courtroom.

"I think the intent is great. You have kids who make mistakes, and do they need to be charged as a felony? I don’t know," she says.

Child Watch Executive Director Lee Emmons says many teens and families come to her at a loss, in shock from a sexting situation. But after the button is pushed, Emmons says there’s only so much that can be done. That’s why Emmons says education at any age is key between child and parent.

"Something that may seem relatively innocent or minor to them needs to be put into a different context," Emmons says.

The issue of sexting isn’t specific to teens. Children as young as elementary age have been found to send or receive nude photos.

Emmons says any child who uses technology can expose or be exposed to something they shouldn’t.

All three local state senators voted to pass Senate Bill 37. The bill is now headed to the house.

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