Grove’s Sexting Legislation Heads to the Senate
5/23/2011

HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania House of Representatives today approved legislation authored by Rep. Seth Grove (R-Dover) that would create the offense of sexting by minors, which would be graded as a second-degree misdemeanor. 

 

“Even in our quiet central Pennsylvania communities, we have seen the devastating emotional impact sexting can have on teenagers,” said Grove.  “Sexting is a nationwide phenomenon that has led to ridicule, bullying, teen suicide and the sexual exploitation of minors.  My legislation will send the message to young people that sexting is not only inappropriate behavior, but it is also illegal.  Having said that, I do not want to see the potential of our youth stunted by a single thoughtless mistake, which is why I believe the current felony charge is too harsh.”

 

House Bill 815 would apply only to nude photos transmitted among teens.  If an adult were to purposely view or transmit a photo of a minor, he or she could be prosecuted under felony child pornography charges.  Additionally, photos depicting lewd or graphic sexual behavior involving minors would not be covered under this legislation, and would continue to fall under existing felony child pornography charges.

 

 “When our child pornography laws were enacted, we made a distinction between images of minors and those of adults,” said Grove.  “Those laws have saved many children from abuse and have sent many perverted individuals to prison.  We never imagined at that time that kids would be sending nude pictures of themselves to other kids who could then transmit these images to hundreds of people in seconds.  Our laws need to be brought up to date with technology.”   

 

Some critics of the legislation have called sexting a natural expression of adolescent sexuality.  Others have misinterpreted the penalties included in the bill, scaring parents into believing the legislation would allow prosecutors to send minors to prison.  Grove’s measure would not include incarceration, but would allow a teen to enter into a diversionary alternative and then have his or her record expunged. 

 

“Sexting is not a natural expression of individuality or normal pubescent behavior.  It can be a cry for help,” said Grove.  “The fact that many teens are engaging in sexting does not make it normal.  Many teens do drugs, but we do not accept drug use as a normal expression of teen angst.  Sexting is a degradation of a teen’s body and self-esteem, and consenting to it would further corrode the morals of our society.”

 

House Bill 815 will now go to the Senate for its consideration.

 

More information about sexting and Grove’s other legislative 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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