It looks like New Jersey will finally get around to treating teens more reasonably when it comes to Megan’s Law.
If you’re not from New Jersey or a state that has similar legislation, you may not know about Megan’s Law. Passed in 1994, the law was named after a New Jersey 7-year-old girl who was raped and murdered by a neighbor who was a twice-convicted sexual predator.
The original Megan’s Law has a noble goal; to make sure that families know when there is a dangerous convicted sexual predator living in close proximity. Those convicted of a sexual predator offense are required to submit their address of principal residence and key identifying personal details to a registry, all of which are made public.
With the advance of technology, and especially smartphone use, many in the parenting community have opposed teens convicted of sexting offences from being included in the registry. Yesterday the New Jersey Law and Public Safety Assembly committee unanimously passed a bill, earlier passed by the Senate that would allow teens to avoid registration under certain circumstances. According to an article at NorthJersey.com:
Under the legislation, teenagers who use a computer or smartphone to share nude photos of themselves with another consenting juvenile would be excluded from Megan’s Law provisions.
It isn’t clear whether the law applies to a minor sharing pictures of another minor, often referred to as revenge porn. New Jersey is already one of the only states that has a law of any kind covering revenge porn, but victim advocates will argue that such laws do not do enough to protect those harmed.
We in no way encourage or applaud minors sending sext messages, but the change to Megan’s Law as stated seems like a no-brainer to us. While we understand that in the event that lewd photos of minors become public, police are going to be involved, subjecting teens to the same sentence that is applied to adult sexual predators is grossly inappropriate.
Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring teen internet activity.