The Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted 178-20 this week to make it a misdemeanor for teens 13-17 years old to electronically transmit nude or semi-nude photos, generally known as "sexting." Legislators did not set punishments for the crime but said they don't want teens caught sexting to face felony pornography charges, as they have in some instances.
"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 Rep. Seth Grove, R-York, sponsor of the bill. "These photos can be distributed to an entire high school with the click of a button. Sexting can have long-term detrimental effects."
Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he thought the bill went too far, especially by banning sexting between "consenting" teens. He said sexting "is nothing more than normal adolescent behavior with new technology. It's harmless sexual exploration" as long as both teens agree.
The bill still requires approval by the state Senate before becoming law.