Abad: sexting more than just ‘harmless fun’

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    When 150 TCU students were asked about sexting, 135 said they had never engaged in sexting and 14 students were unclear about what sexting was. One student admitted to engaging in the activity but declined to comment further.

    The Macmillan Dictionary defines sexting as “the practice of sending sexual images or messages to someone’s mobile phone.” Sexting is a portmanteau word, which is a type of contraction that results from bringing together two or more words to create a new word that means a combination of the original words. In this case, the words are “sex” and “texting.”

    Lt. Ramiro Abad of the University Police Department said minors appear to view sexting as “harmless fun.”

    “Minors do not understand the legal ramifications of texting intimate messages to other minors until it is too late,” Abad said.

    Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said studies indicate students are becoming increasingly talented at creating, sending and receiving explicit pictures of themselves on their smartphones.

    “Sexting is more common among teenage students than ‘mature non-traditional students,’” Abbott said.

    Earlier this year, Gov. Rick Perry signed into law Texas Senate Bill 407 (SB 407), Abbott said.

    This is a common-sense law that holds wrongdoers accountable but does not impose life-altering consequences on young offenders.

    The new law gives prosecutors greater latitude when charging teenagers who have engaged in sexting, Abbott said.

    “Prosecutors can charge teenagers with a misdemeanor,” Abbott said. “A misdemeanor under Texas state law is punishable by a fine of not more than $4,000, confinement in jail for a term less than a year or both.”

    They can also request the court sentence minors to participate in educational programs to learn the harmful long-term consequences of sexting, Abbott said.

    “SB 407 requires the Texas School Safety Center, in consultation with the Texas Attorney General’s office, to develop educational programs that school districts can use in addressing the consequences of sexting,” Abbott said.

    Shain E. Thomas is a FTDM major from Scotland.