DENVER (CBS4) – Efforts to pass a sexting bill at the Colorado state Capitol have hit a road block. Supporters say they are trying to protect teenagers. Opponents say the bill goes too far.
At issue is whether kids who want to share nude photos with each other should be able to. Opponents of the bill say as long as its consensual it’s not a crime, but prosecutors say the state needs to send a message that minors should not be sharing naked photos.
Under state and federal law underage sexting is a felony sex offense. Under the bill that’s been introduced at the state Capitol most sexting cases would be misdemeanors, but opponents say if the sexting is consensual it shouldn’t be a crime at all.
“It’s really the role of family and parents to teach about right and wrong,” Brie Akins with the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault said.
Akins worries if sexting is a felony crime, victims won’t report it if the photo they sent is shared without their permission.
“My main concern is for victims that this happens to, and then it’s further disseminated, that they be able to receive help,” Atkins said.
“Find the kid who’s ever been charged with that. We don’t do that,” Tom Raynes with the Colorado District Attorney’s Council said.
Raynes said they are willing to make consensual sexting a petty offense, but that’s as far as they will go.
“If you make it no offense you’re basically setting a state policy telling parents and teenagers, ‘Hey guys, if you’re in a relationship it’s perfectly fine to send naked photos of yourselves to one another — that’s good stuff,'” Raynes said. “So, if the bill takes that path we would rather see the bill die than to go through amended in that fashion.”
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Yeulin Willett, R-Grand Junction, agrees, saying he won’t decriminalize sexting altogether. But opponents are unwilling to budge, meaning the bill will likely fail.
“That image can get in the cloud and get stolen; it can get inadvertently hacked or intentionally hacked. Then you do have a victim,” Willett said.
Willett says if consensual sexting is a petty offense kids will get the education they need. But opponents say if it is a petty offense victims won’t qualify for the funding they need to get therapy.
The bill goes to committee next week, and at this point its fate doesn’t look good.