While it is already illegal in West Virginia for adults to send sexually explicit text messages to minors, a new law in the state would punish juveniles for sexting with each other.
Signed on May 6, the new law makes possessing, distributing or producing sexually inappropriate photos, videos or other media, an act of delinquency for those under 18. However, if the minor completes an educational diversion program, the delinquency charge could be dropped from his or her record, according to the Associated Press.
The AP goes on to report that the educational diversion program is being created by the state Supreme Court and will inform minors about the consequences of sexting in order to prevent them from doing it again. It will clear the delinquency charge so that a single mistake does not follow an offender around for the rest of his or her life.
As of December 2012, at least 20 states had passed laws punishing minors for sexting in some form. In New Jersey, juveniles risk being required to register as a sex offender; however, juveniles in West Virginia would not run that risk.
Crystal Kirk, a West Virginia parent, told NBC local affiliate WVVA that she is happy about the new law.
"I think it's awesome," she said. "I think it's long overdue. I think [sexting] gets our [nation's] kids in a lot of trouble, gets them active in sex way earlier than they should be."
The law will go into effect on July 12.
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