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4/15/09

Vermont Lawmakers Look To Legalize Teen 'Sexting'

Under Current Law, Teens Who Text Message Explicit Photos Could Be Prosecuted As Sex Offenders

Lawmakers there are considering a bill that would make it legal for teenagers 18 and under to exchange explicit photos and videos of themselves – an act that's come to be known by teens as "sexting."

Under the current law, teenagers could be prosecuted as sex offenders if they get caught sending graphic sexual images of themselves, even if it was consensual.

A state House committee will hear more testimony on it later this week.

Do You Think Sexting Should Be Legal For Teens? Leave Your Comments Here!

In a recent study, 18 percent of female students nationwide say they've tried sexting.

New York City student Stefanie Garcia is only in high school, and says sexting happens all the time.

"Girls in underwear, guys completely naked, muscle pictures, stuff like that," Garcia told CBS 2.

Actress Vanessa Hudgens is still trying to live down the scandal of her nude pictures ending up on-line, when they were meant for her boyfriend.

"It'll get there in like 30 seconds. The world can know about anything," high school senior Juli Ssacontreras said.

Ssacontreras says sexting is like paparazzi for teenagers and it's not just nude pictures that are being sent.

"People using drugs, of people being drunk, maybe doing some other illegal activities," she said.

Karen Salmansohn is an expert on talking with teenagers about smart choices. She writes books to empower girls, and says parents need to talk to their kids about the dangers of sexting -- using their language.

"Don't talk to them in language saying this is right this is wrong. That's not going to get to a kid," Salmansohn said.

"You have to talk them, you know what you think is cool isn't so cool. You have to use the language of cool because that's why they're doing it."

Tell them that once that embarrassing pictures goes out, there's no way to get it off the Internet, and could affect their college and future job opportunities when recruiters search the Web. They're also up for grabs for sexual predators. By law, sexually explicit pictures of anyone under 18 are considered child pornography.

The head of wiredsafety.org, says minors can be charged with child pornography, so parents need to call police if an explicit picture of your child is on the Internet. If you don't get action, contact your attorney general's office.

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