DENVER (CBS4) – Is teen sexting worth it? That’s the question raised in a series of public service announcements that will be showing up on TV soon.
They were created after a sexting scandal arose last year in Fremont County and involved more than 100 students.
State Sen. Kevin Grantham, a Republican who represents the Canon City, worked with the Colorado Film Commission to produce the videos.
“There’s shock, certainly, that (it’s happening) here, really? And this?” Grantham told CBS4.
“If we can just get parents thinking about this, and getting teens thinking about the consequences of what seems like a fun and innocent thing (we could help them realize it) could have far-reaching public implications.”
Under state and federal law, sexting is a felony sex offense. State Rep. Yeulin Willet, a Republican who represents Grand Junction, has introduced a bill that would change that.
“Colorado is calling for something to be done,” he said.
His bill would make sexting a midemeanor. Instead of a sex crime, it would be a charge of “misuse of electronic communication by a juvenile.” The Colorado District Attorneys’ Council supports the action.
Carrie Thompson of the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar says if it’s consensual, sexting shouldn’t be a crime at all.
“The focus should be on harm reduction. So when there is a concern that someone is consensually sexting, we need to be educating them,” Thompson said.
Willet feels there still needs to be a strong deterrent against sexting, however.
“If we want to also protect young people who might be sensitive in our unfortunately suicidal era, we need to let them know it’s not okay to record this, even in a consensual relationship because if that gets out that can have dire consequences psychologically and long lasting effects,” he said.
Under the legislation, district attorneys could still bring felony charges in the worst cases. The bill is up in a House committee next week and it is expected to pass.