Legislation to Teach Students about the Consequences of Sexting Clears Policy Committee

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Sacramento – Yesterday afternoon, the Assembly Committee on Education approved AB 2536, authored by Assemblymember Ed Chau (D-Monterey Park), which clarifies that sexting, with the purpose or effect of humiliating or harassing a pupil, is a part of cyberbullying and incorporates sexting curriculum as a part of comprehensive sex education programs.

“Many teens who consider sexting normal are not only at risk of facing serious legal consequences, but are also subject to acts of bullying or harassment when their intimate images are taken without their knowledge or disseminated without their consent," said Assemblymember Chau. “This presents a complex challenge to schools as they strive to provide safe environments for learning.”

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a recent survey found that 20 percent of teenage boys and girls have sent a sext message. Sending sexually explicit photographs, videos or messages via cell phone or instant messenger has real dangers and consequences, because it is nearly impossible to control the flow of digital information once it leaves a person’s mobile device. With the click of a button an image can be sent out to hundreds of people. In California, sending sexual images of minors is specifically prohibited under Penal Code Section 311.11. Some states have begun prosecuting teenagers who sext under state child pornography laws. Last year, three Connecticut high school students were arrested and charged for participating in a sexting ring that sold sexually explicit images and videos of other students. Unfortunately, some teenagers have committed suicide because of the effect of sexting. In 2010, a thirteen-year old Florida teen committed suicide after a photo she had sent to her boyfriend was later disseminated to students at six different schools in the area by another female student. In 2012, a fifteen-year old California teen committed suicide after she was sexually assaulted by three teenage boys who took photos of the incident then texted, emailed, and posted those photos on social media.

California public schools already provide sex education programs to students, and adding curriculum about the risks of sexting, including the social, academic, and legal consequences related to the behavior, is arguably a logical addition to current sex education programs.

“Sexting needs to be part of a comprehensive sex education program, but egregious acts should also be coupled with appropriate forms of discipline for causing irreparable harm to another student,” concluded Assemblymember Chau.

Assemblymember Ed Chau represents the 49th Assembly District, comprised of the communities of Alhambra, Arcadia, El Monte, Monterey Park, Rosemead, San Gabriel, San Marino, Temple City and portions of Montebello, and South El Monte.

CONTACT: Edmundo Cuevas, Office: (916) 319-2049, Edmundo.Cuevas@asm.ca.gov