NJ Legislation Would Decriminalize 'Sexting' by Teens

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The New Jersey Law Journal reports that New Jersey legislators are proposing alternatives to criminal prosecution of teenagers 'sexting' that may be more effective in stanching the recent practice. The current trend is to charge them with child pornography, something some legislators believe to be unfair.

Pending bills in the state Assembly and the Senate would create a diversionary program, by which minors who are charged with the creation, distribution or exhibition of nude photos can avoid prosecution by completing a course focusing on the consequences of such acts.

The sponsors say teenagers often engage in the practice -- sometimes known by the play on words "sexting" -- out of a psychological vulnerability, not a criminal mindset, and the law should reflect that.

The bills A-4069 (Pamela Lampitt, D-Camden) and S-2926 (James Beach,D-Camden), were introduced in June, just three months after the Passaic County Sheriff's Department charged a 14-year-old girl with distribution of child pornography for posting nude pictures of herself on MySpace. The girl ultimately was given probation and counseling.

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