Position Statement: HR 1761 Passage: Protecting Against Child Exploitation Act of 2017
In June 2017, the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (ATSA) released a position statement on the U.S. House of Representatives' passage of HR 1761, the Protecting Against Child Exploitation Act of 2017. The statement commends the bill's intent to combat child pornography but raises serious concerns about its unintended consequences. Specifically, ATSA criticizes the bill for potentially criminalizing consensual sexting among teenagers, which could result in disproportionate penalties like a mandatory minimum 15-year prison sentence and lifetime sex offender registration.
Highlighting that 20 to 50 percent of teens engage in sexting, ATSA argues that such behavior, while perhaps misguided, should not lead to severe criminalization. The organization emphasizes that adolescents are not mini-adults and advocates for approaches that focus on education, skill development, and treatment rather than punitive measures. ATSA also critiques the removal of judicial discretion and the strain on prison populations due to mandatory minimum sentences. The statement urges Congress to rewrite the law to target serious offenses effectively while avoiding harm to teenagers who need guidance and support.
Download : 2017-06_PS_HR_1761.pdf