Sexting In Texas

by Conor Friedersdorf

After quoting the Attorney General of Texas, who says that sexting teens "don’t understand the consequences of what they’re doing – they are exposing themselves around the world,” Apollo begs to differ:

The thought that would make... Abbot’s skin crawl is this: the teenagers are perfectly aware of the consquences of what they are doing. We’re not dealing with illiterate babes in the woods being exploited here, we’re dealing with tech savvy kids loaded with hormones who are exchanging pictures with people exactly like themselves. I doubt there’s one out of twenty sexters who would be surprised to learn that their pictures could get beyond the original audience. As I’ve long said, there’s a changing culture regarding nude and explicit pictures. In 20 years, I suspect these sexting teenagers will look back not with horror, like today’s serious adults expect, but with bemusement.

There's no way of knowing for sure, but that seems likely to me too. Apollo's post was prompted by a move in Texas to make teen sexting a misdemeanor rather than a felony, which is a step in the right direction. But it includes this:

Attorney General Greg Abbott and state Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, said wording has been added to Senate Bill 407 that would allow judges to order minors and a parent to participate in an education program about the detrimental social and criminal aspects of texting explicit images.

Wouldn't it be better to leave explanations of the social effects to parents, and to get rid of the criminal aspects entirely so that kids don't wind up with serious criminal records for the modern day equivalent of "I'll show you mine if you show me yours"? Parents had good reason to warn their kids against that game too, but they seemed to handle it without having a society wide freak-out that criminalized a common part of growing up.