This new bill means teens could face jail time for sexting

The House of Representatives has passed a new bill to protect children against sexual exploitation. And as a result, teens could face some serious jail time for sexting. The Protecting Against Child Exploitation Act of 2017 was created to close the loopholes in child exploitation laws. And while doing so, it will crack down on anyone who engages in sexual activity over the web. Yes, that’s right. Even teens consensually sexting other teens.

Under the bill, teens caught sexting or sending nude photos to other teens could face mandatory minimum sentencing for child porn charges. That’s about 15 years in prison.

According to Teen Vogue, Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana, who also proposed the bill, he believes that “we have a moral obligation, as any just government should, to defend the defenseless.”

But, what does defending the defenseless under this new bill look like exactly?

While speaking to Reason, Rep. Bobby Scott of Virginia said:

"That means if a teenager attempts to obtain a photo of sexually explicit conduct by requesting it from his teenage girlfriend, the judge must sentence that teenager to prison for at least 15 years for making such an attempt."

But that’s not all. Scott continued to explain that:

"...if a teenager goads a friend to ask a teenager to take a sexually explicit image of herself, just by asking, he could be guilty of conspiracy or attempt, and the judge must sentence that teenager to at least 15 years in prison."

According to the ACLU, protecting minors from sexual predators is one thing. But, punishing teenagers for experimenting with sex is quite another. And that’s what the organization thinks this new law will do. In response to the new bill, the ACLU tweeted:

We totally get the intent of the bill, but we have to admit — the punishment seems pretty harsh for teens. While protecting kids from privacy invasions, sexual assault, and revenge porn is critical, there are also risks to demonizing normal consensual sexual behavior.