Vermont May Legalize Sexting—Between Teens

Bill moving through legislature to legalize sexually explicit teen communications
By Gabriel Winant,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 14, 2009 10:45 AM CDT
Vermont May Legalize Sexting—Between Teens
Tyler Barnett begins to write a text message on his cell phone in Los Angeles on Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2009.   (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)

Vermont’s state government is in an awkward position. Current law has the state prosecuting teens who send sexually explicit pictures of themselves to each other—sexting—as sex offenders. The state Senate has passed a bill to exempt an exchange of images between people between 13 and 18 years old from classification as child pornography, reports the Burlington Free Press, and the state House will take up the bill this week.

Not that legislators like it. “This isn’t an issue of whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing—I think it’s wrong—but the question is, do we want kids to be prosecuted, called sex offenders,” asks a state senator. That's why legalization has gotten broad support from prosecutors, defense attorneys, law enforcement, and women’s groups. The lawyer for one teen on trial for a sexting-related offense agrees. “It seems ridiculous to hold someone criminally responsible for an otherwise mundane act.”
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