A Look into Senate Bill 407 — What Are Schools Required to Do?
Senate Bill 407 (SB 407) became effective on September 1, 2011, but what does it say and what does it have to do with schools?
The Backstory: As cell phone usage has become incredibly widespread (the average age of a child receiving a cell phone is 10 years old), a whole new wave of communicating has emerged. The vast majority of teens now use texting as their preferred means of catching up and swapping stories. Along with this has come sending photos and videos to one another which quickly began to include naked pictures.
While it may seem harmless, to some extent, for young couples to swap nude photos of each other, the damaging repercussions down the road are inevitable. Once a photo is launched into the digital world, there is no way of keeping it from being spread has far as the internet is wide and there is no retrieving it.
Apart from the personal embarrassment and public humiliation of having a naked picture passed around, the law gets involved whenever the nude photo is of a minor, someone who is under the age of 18. In the United States, a sexually-explicit photo of a minor is automatically deemed as child pornography and can equal a felony and a permanent listing on the national sex offender list.
Because of the harshness of this law, judges were often hesitant to prosecute young people and leave them with a record that would undoubtedly haunt them for the rest of their lives. However, this issue could not simply be allowed to go on without being addressed.
Therefore, Texas decided to take action and Senator Kirk Watson wrote what would become Senate Bill 407.
Now, rather than being forced to convict a minor with a felony over a sexting issue, judges now have the ability to simply convict the minor with a misdeamnor. This enables minors to still learn their lesson about this dangerous practice and prosecutors can press charges without having to hand the minor a felony that would haunt him/her for life.
Also, Senate Bill 407 requires Texas public schools to teach their students about the legal, social and emotional consequences of sexting. These programs must be available for the 2012-2013 school year and every year going forward. The goal would be to make students aware of what consequences can occur as a result of their choices and help them to make wise choices for the future.
To learn more about what these assemblies could look like for your school, go to MarkSeguin.com/for-schools. Feel free to contact us anytime with the form on the right.
For more information regarding Senate Bill 407 and the official statement for Texas General Attorney Greg Abbott, please visit the following links: