Teens caught sexting could serve 15 years in prison

OLATHE, Kan - A bill designed to crack down on child pornography could have a very negative impact on your teen.

The bill is called the “Protecting Against Child Exploitation Act of 2017" and has already passed the U.S. House.

"This is becoming a greater and greater problem,” said Johnson County District Attorney Stephen Howe.

According to a report for Pew Research Center, nearly 80 percent of teens have a cell phone. Some aren't just using it to go on Facebook and Twitter.

They are sending sexual photos to friends

"It is continuing to be a problem and we are trying to educate parents and kids about the serious problems that could result from doing that type of sexting,” said Howe.

41 Action News Anchor Christa Dubill started #KCSafeOnline to help kids and parents learn about the potential dangers in our online and social world.

The number of cases for Howe is consistent.

"Sometimes we are talking kids 10 and 12 years old," he said. 

The bill is designed to close a loophole for child pornographers. But some say it will hurt the very people it's supposed to protect.

"I do think it's way too strict,” said Jennifer Schimmel.

Schimmel is a mother of three boys. She says a mandatory minimum is not a good idea.

"Having three boys and they aren't 19 yet or 18 but they are not mature enough to know the ramifications of those penalties and what they are doing. I also think there are more crimes being done that should have worse ramifications," she said. 

Howe said they look at state cases with discretion. If the two individuals are close in age and are dating, that factors into the decision to prosecute.

“They are impulsive. They don't think through things. So many times, they end up doing something they will regret the rest of their life and that's what we are trying to prevent,” said Howe.

This is not the end for the bill. It is currently before the Senate Judiciary Committee.  


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