Sexting could become a crime - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Sexting could become a crime

Gerry Mar, High School Student Gerry Mar, High School Student
Kayla Ranga, High School Student Kayla Ranga, High School Student
Raymond Ababa, High School Student Raymond Ababa, High School Student
Laurie Temple, American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii Laurie Temple, American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Sexting may not be too smart but should it be against the law?  Senate Bill 2222 prohibits adults from asking minors for nude pictures and it would also outlaw minors from sending nude pictures of themselves to adults or other kids. 

The idea is to protect the child because once the image is sent out there is little control over it going public.  The photos can be used as blackmail and have led to suicide in other states.  For those reasons the Attorney General's office supports the bill and so do some teenagers we spoke with.

"They're too young to be exposed to that kind of stuff so I think it's probably for the best," said Gerry Mar, High School Student.

"To experience sexual things and they're harassing themselves not respecting themselves," said Kayla Ranga, High School Student. "It's good that they're planning to make it illegal."

"I have gotten some but I do not do that.  I delete it and I don't ask because I feel like that's, even as tempting as it sounds it's a violation even to have a picture of them half naked or anything. I really don't like that," said Raymond Ababa, High School Student. "I would say it's a big problem in the wrong hands. If it were to get out of hand and that person were to send it to everyone because it could ruin their potential if they want to go out into college that picture might be brought up saying oh something happened and it could ruin that person's future and it does scale into a very big problem."

The ACLU of Hawaii opposes the idea.  They don't condone sexting but they also don't think kids should be criminalized for bad judgment.

"Child pornography laws were enacted to protect our children from dangerous predators, not criminalize our children for exercising poor judgment. Parents and educators need to create an open and honest dialogue around these issues, they need to inform teens about respect for their peers, privacy, using electronic media responsibly.  Harsh criminal penalties will only serve to stigmatize our children and prevent them from becoming productive adults," said Laurie Temple, American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii.

What message lawmakers send on the sexting subject remains to be seen.

A former educational assistant has been charged with the state's first sexting case.  Cody Onizuka has pleaded not guilty to exchanging sexual texts with a 12 year old student he allegedly met at Niu Valley Middle School.  His trial is scheduled for May.

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