It is a digital world and teens all across New Jersey are active participants in the electronic age. From social media accounts to email and simple phone to phone texting, teenagers are in constant contact with each other and sharing more information than ever before.
Some teens have taken their affinities for sharing information over electronic channels to a new level by engaging in what some have termed sexting. Sexting involves sending nude or inappropriate pictures to others via text message. As of right now sexting falls into the category of sex crimes and can be prosecuted by authorities.
Being convicted of a sex crime carries some very serious consequences including the need for a person to register as a sex offender. The sex offender registry was created in response to Megan's Law, a nationally recognized law that makes convicted sex offenders share their addresses with the public.
A new bill would not require New Jersey teens charged with sexting to register as sex offenders. Supporters of Megan's Law even believe that eliminating this requirement would preserve the intent of the law, which is to catch truly violent sex offenders.
While sex charges against juveniles for violent and non-sexting crimes would still likely result in those juveniles having to register as sex offenders, this bill may be a good step toward saving good people from a lifetime of trouble just for making some mistakes with digital media during their adolescents. As this bill moves closer to becoming law, it will be interesting to see how the rest of the nation addresses this challenging sex crime conundrum.
Source: newjerseynewsroom.com, "Teen Sexters May Not Have to Register as Sex Offenders," Tori Nadel, Nov. 20, 2013