Teens caught sexting could soon face lighter punishments in Kansas

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. --Young teens caught sexting  or sending naked pictures of themselves to each other might soon face a lighter punishment in Kansas.

Kansas lawmakers will vote Wednesday on whether to reduce the severity of their crime.

A recent survey of college students at Northeastern University found that 54-percent of them had sent sexually explicit pictures or texts with others when they were minors.

But right now in Kansas, if a juvenile is caught sexting, the punishment is harsh. They are treated as an adult and if found guilty, face prison time and have to register as a sex offender for the rest of their life. It’s either that or no punishment at all.

Kansas lawmakers right now are considering another option,which would make sexting a misdemeanor for teens between the ages of 12 and 17, unless those sexually explicit images are used to bully or threaten another person. Then it would remain a felony.

The bill is several years in the making as Kansas is one of 30 states that treats juveniles the same as adults when it comes to sexting.

Sexting between adults is legal – but sexting between minors is not since it involves minors. If an adult is caught sexting pictures of a minor, then it would remain a felony charge. This would only apply to those under the age of 18.

On Tuesday, the Kansas House overwhelmingly passed the measure in a preliminary vote. Wednesday, they will vote again on whether to send it to the Senate for consideration.

If the sexting involves a picture of someone under the age of 12, it would remain a felony regardless of the age of the other person.