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WI: Students can face fines for sexting in Pewaukee

[ – 8/9/19]

PEWAUKEE, Wis. (CBS 58) – The Village of Pewaukee is taking action to address the prevalence of sexting among minors by enacting an ordinance that allows police to issue citations for those caught exchanging nude photos or videos through electronic devices.

“The whole idea is to change children’s behavior,” said Chief Timothy Heier of the Pewaukee Police Department. “Get them to stop and make better choices in life.”

Sexting is not unique to the Village of Pewaukee.

A study by the Journal of the American Medical Association found that one in four young people have received a sext while one in seven have sent one.

Chief Heier said police in his department were investigating about one case a week, something that strained resources.

“It takes up many man-hours to investigate,” Heier told CBS 58.

Police said that most cases of sexting are consensual, but oftentimes a relationship between two minors may sour and lead to the distribution of explicit photos or videos for malicious reasons.

Police Sgt. Nate Wright added that the Waukesha District Attorney’s Office was not interested in pursuing charges for every case brought to them. That often meant perpetrators did not face repercussions.

Pewaukee’s School Resource Officer Julie Buddenhagen is credited with coming up with the idea for the ordinance to fine minors who are caught sexting, which was modeled after a similar ordinance in Stevens Point.

The ordinance fines a minor $438 for the first offense and $639 for the second offense. It’s a solution that police believe addresses community concerns.

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