New punishment for teens caught "sexting"?

SOCASTEE, SC (WMBF) South Carolina State lawmakers are pushing a bill to impose fines on teens for "sexting".

Under current state law, a teen can be arrested and charged with a felony for sending explicit photos of themselves, their friends or other underage persons.  The new law would replace current penalties with a $100 fine.

Susan Ellis, mother of a Socastee High School Student, said she supports the bill, which would result in more lenient penalties for teens caught sexting.

"It's absolutely wrong to send sexually explicit messages through texting," Ellis stressed. "But [the fine is] a much better idea than charging a student with a felony."

Socastee High School Student Michelle Meeg said she also supports the bill, because she believes teen often forget the serious potential repercussions for sexting.

"They know it's bad, but they don't know about the absolute consequences," Meeg said.  "Maybe a fine would be better because it's not permanent [like a felony] and they can learn from their mistake."

There are some who have concerns about the bill, as Socastee High School Principal Dr. Paul Browning said he feels the bill needs more work.

"There needs to be more important and more critical penalties for [serious] activities," Browning stressed.  "I'm hoping this bill in some way will stage that law to address the severity of each incident."

A house subcommittee approved the bill on Wednesday, which would apply to teens between the ages of 12 and 17.

Similar versions of the bill are currently being considered in the South Carolina State House of Representatives and the State Senate.

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