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Arkansas Sexting Law Has Teens Talking

BATESVILLE, Ark. -- Two Batesville, Arkansas teens are charged under a new law for sending nude photos of themselves to each other. That has other teens talking.
BATESVILLE, Ark. -- Two Batesville, Arkansas teens are charged under a new law for sending nude photos of themselves to each other. That has other teens talking.

Say the word sexting in any high school and most teenagers will know exactly what you're talking about.

"First of all, just sexting in general, what is it? What do you guys think it is?" asks a reporter.

"Sexting to me is like taking a picture of yourself nude and sending it to whoever you're talking to," says high school senior Deja Middleton.
"I think it's pretty widespread. I've heard stories. I haven't done it personally, but I think teens are doing it," says high school senior Connor Poteet.

And the consequences, they know those too.

"I have a friend that she was really involved in school, smart and nobody knew about it and one day a picture showed up on the internet and it was all over Twitter and it was all over Facebook," says high school sophomore Hadleigh Cahoone.  "Everybody was surprised but it was sad because she had to move schools because everyone had seen her naked. People were bullying her and giving her a really hard time about it."

It happens more than you think.   And last year, one Arkansas mom took notice.

"Juveniles that were caught sexting could be charged under the state child pornography laws which is a felony," says Sherry Jo McLemore.  "As the mom of a teenager who knows that sexting  happens quite often, that really concerned me.">

McLemore took the issue to legislators.
Though there have not been any cases in Arkansas of teens being charged with child pornography for sexting, it has happened in other states.

In an effort to separate the two crimes, legislators came up with a sexting law--making it a Class A Misdemeanor for juveniles to share sexually explicit pictures, punishable by eight hours of community service.

McLemore says the charge sends a message to teens without winding up on their criminal record. 
"As long as you are not sharing it with anyone else, as long as you are deleting it,  then you won't be charged."

"I think there should be community service and I think, honestly, they should have to pay a fine," says senior Hailey Perez.  "Especially if it goes on the internet and like out in the public and people see it."

It's a good law--these teens say--but sadly, it will likely affect kids younger than them in junior high and middle school - kids still to young to know the consequences of sexting.

Reporter:  "You guys have grown up in the social media age. What have you learned, the lessons that you've learned, maybe not necessarily personally but from just seeing it happen to other people,  what do you think you guys have learned about sexting and social media and all that stuff?"

"Don't do anything on social media when you're angry or sad or just in an emotional  state  when you'll say something stupid," says Kylan Wade, a senior.

"They really need to think about if I do this, will it come back and ruin my reputation or get me in trouble 10 years down the line when I'm married or in politics or anything big that could really affect them."

(story by Lisa Hutson - KTHV, Little Rock via CBS Newspath)

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