House Judiciary Committee Unanimously Approves Grove’s Sexting Bill
5/3/2011

The House Judiciary Committee today approved legislation written by Rep. Seth Grove (R-Dover) to reduce the criminal penalties teens could face for exchanging nude photos of themselves and others in a practice known as “sexting.”   

Current law allows district attorneys to prosecute sexting as a felony under child pornography laws, but Grove’s House Bill 815 would make sexting among teens a second-degree misdemeanor. 

“My legislation is about providing an appropriate punishment for sexting between teens because current law distinguishes the exchange of nude photos of minors, even if it is between minors, as child pornography, which can result in very serious consequences,” said Grove.  “Sexting can lead to the sexual exploitation of children, so decriminalizing the practice is not an option.  I have worked with law enforcement, prosecutors and other stakeholders to find a balance and ensure the punishment for sexting fits the crime.” 

Grove’s House Bill 815 was unanimously reported from the House Judiciary Committee.  The committee approved similar legislation authored by Grove last session.  That bill was passed by the House, but was never acted upon in the Senate. 

Grove noted his legislation allows for diversionary alternatives in sentencing, would not include incarceration, and provides for expungement. 

The legislation would apply only to nude photos transmitted among teens.  If an adult were to view or transmit a photo of a teen, he or she could be prosecuted under felony child pornography charges.  Additionally, photos depicting lewd or graphic sexual behavior would not be covered under this legislation. 

“Teens need to get the message that as soon as they hit the send button and transmit these inappropriate images, the genie is out of the bottle,” said Grove.  “These photos can be distributed to an entire high school with the click of a button, and they can literally make their way around the world.  We cannot turn a blind eye and allow young people to continue to harm themselves.  Sexting can have long-term detrimental effects on the psyche of teens, some of whom have committed suicide and withdrawn from public education because of one thoughtless mistake.  My hope is that this legislation will make teens think before they sext.”  

More information about sexting and Grove’s other legislation priorities is available in the “Issues of Interest” tab on his website, RepGrove.com.  Information is also posted at Facebook.com/RepSethGrove

State Representative Seth Grove
196th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Contact:  Nicole Wamsley
nwamsley@pahousegop.com
717.783.8063
Twitter.com/RepGrove

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