Judiciary Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

HB-6002

Title:

AN ACT CONCERNING "SEXTING" BY A CHILD.

Vote Date:

2/8/2017

Vote Action:

Vote to Draft

PH Date:

3/13/2017

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Rep. Steven J. Stafstrom

Sen. Marilyn V. Moore

Rep. Josh Elliot

REASONS FOR BILL:

Children have been prone to make mistakes much like everyone else. As children they don't fully understand the repercussions of their mistakes. Bill 6002 will ensure that any person under the age of eighteen that acquired a pornographic photo through electronic communication of a person below the age of sixteen, be charged with a class A misdemeanor rather than a felony.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

State of Connecticut Division of Criminal Justice: The Connecticut Division of Criminal Justice is in support of this bill. There are two problems in the current law. One being that kids younger than in the current law are getting involved in this activity and secondly they believe that the proposed bill could be revised to take the distinction between ages into consideration.

Connecticut Commission on Women, Children and Seniors: The Connecticut Commission On Women, Children and Seniors are in support of bill 6002. They do have concerns about the bill in its current form. Removing the minimum age for someone to be charged with a misdemeanor would mean that great care would need to be taken to avoid unintended consequences that may harm children without resulting in any significant improvement to their own outcomes or in community safety.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Stratford Community Services, Leah M. Rambush, Youth and Family Counselor, Juvenile Review Board Case Manager: Supporting bill 6002 will allow for children, including those under age thirteen, to learn from their actions and repair harms done as the result of misdemeanor charges, not as child pornography felons.

Connecticut Voices for Children, Nicole Updegrove and Lauren Ruth Ph.D.: This bill would prevent children under the age of thirteen from being punished more harshly than children over age thirteen for engaging in sexting behaviors. Sexting is a risky, but normalized behavior activity during adolescent development. Adolescent development is a gradual process involving experimentation and risk-taking. Imposing felony charges upon children who engage in sexting doesn't protect children- it hurts them further. The misdemeanor exceptions for minors aged thirteen and older is developmentally more appropriate and helps children who sext receive diversion services.

Center for Children's Advocacy: Supporting this bill will do nothing but help the children of Connecticut. This will ensure that an error on the part of a child below the age of thirteen does not make them into a lifelong felon.

Center for Children's Advocacy, Leon Smith: In support stating that the disparity between the ages of the current law causes an immense problem that needs to be fixed and this bill will do that. It allows for children to not be at risk of a felony charge for “sexting” behavior that is common now.

Center for Youth Leadership and the Stamford Youth Services Bureau, Lisa Balazs: While the Center for Youth Leadership and the Stamford Youth Services Bureau are in support of the bill they do have concerns that certain parts should be changed. One part is that there should be a definition of sexting to help distinguish between that and child pornography. The Center for Youth Leadership and the Stamford Youth Services Bureau believed that the bill should include sexual messages and not just sexual photographs.

Alexandra Nelson: As a young fifth grader with a new phone she had received multiple sexual requests from a boy who she had a crush on. After not understanding his intent and what he wanted she asked her mother who handled the situation. Miss Nelson reportedly received numerous requests for sexual photos. Her friend had believed that not sending these photos would have been social suicide. The friend proceeded to take her phone and took sexually explicit photos of Alexandra and sent them to the boy. Alexandra is in support of this bill because she believed that children should not be charged with a felony for mistakes that they don't know are a bigger problem than they are.

Director of the Alliance for Children's Mental Health, Susan Kelley: The idea and intent of this bill is very good. It makes only the state and the children in the state much better. This bill will give children a better future rather than giving them a felony. A first time offense would be eligible to be handled by a community based diversion program. This makes it better for the children so that they don't have future problems looming over their heads.

Connecticut Juvenile Justice Alliance, Christina Quaranta, Policy Associate: The Connecticut Juvenile Justice Alliance believes this bill is a good one and believes that this is a better option than charging said child with a felony. This bill gives the child a better opportunity to keep them out of criminal justice system and makes it easier for the child to go through a rehabilitation process.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

None Submitted

Reported by: Christopher Hamilakis

Date: March 29, 2017