OSHKOSH, Wis. (WBAY) - Oshkosh is the latest community in northeast wisconsin to consider a teen sexting ordinance. The municipal violation would focus on education and the dangers of sexting instead of punishment.
Almost 27% of teens are receiving sexts, and about 15% are sending the sexually explicit images, videos or messages electronically, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics. It's a growing concern and one the City of Kaukauna looked to curb about a year and a half ago.
According to Assistant Police Chief Jamie Graff, "We want kids to understand that it's inappropriate, it is wrong, it's dangerous, it can affect them in the future, but on the other hand we didn't want to make it a felony and really screw up their future, either."
Kaukauna was one of the first communities in Northeast Wisconsin to enact a teen sexting ordinance that issues the offender a municipal violation instead of charging them with a criminal offense.
Graff says, "Families are able to take their kids to court and work with the municipal court judge on some options. It could be maybe community service, it could be some counseling if that's what the family feels is appropriate."
Kaukauna Police say its school liaison officers issue about a dozen of these municipal violations each year and it's pleased with how the program is operating.
Oshkosh is hoping to have the same kind of success.
"We really want to focus on educating kids about the dangers of this, that this is not acceptable behavior and that there are real consequences," says Officer Kate Mann.
The Oshkosh common council will vote on the proposal at its March 13 meeting.