New proposed sexting ordinance in Holmen

New child pornography laws could be going into effect in Holmen.

These ordinances are aimed at both protecting and prosecuting minors.

The Holmen Police Department said sexting– which is the act of sending sexually explicit images, videos or messages, usually by cellphones– has become a big problem with area high school students.

Under the current law, those students could be charged with a felony for possession and/or distribution of child pornography. But a new ordinance would allow judges to punish minors differently, without jumping straight to a felony.

Village of Holmen Police Chief Shane Collins said, “It’s important because once you send that picture and then if someone does download it on a computer, it’s there forever.”

Collins said many minors don’t understand the consequences of sexting.

“Say if it’s a boyfriend girlfriend, we’ve seen it where the girls are sending nude pictures to the boyfriend– well, now they broke up and now he sends it to everybody,” Collins said.

Collins is hoping these minors can be scared straight without having to be charged with a felony.

“We looked at it, it didn’t constitute what we thought where we should charge them for a felony, but obviously it is a felony offense because it’s possession and distribution of child pornography,” Collins said.

So they met with the village of Holmen’s attorney Brian Weber, who drafted a new ordnance to prohibit sexting by minors.

“The school district and the Holmen Police Department and my office kind of collaborated to discuss the problem and to come up with a resolution that we thought would most adequately address the problem,” Weber said.

Instead of facing a felony, Weber says the new ordinance could punish minors by charging them up to a $500 fine and up to 50 hours of community service.

“What we’re really trying to do here is inform kids that this is not something that will be good for their long-term success and that they can get in significant trouble as they get older,” Weber said.

But ultimately Collins said it’s up to parents to keep an eye on their kids.

“Parents need to keep in touch with their kids and always talk about it and inform them and always look at their computers and devices to see who they’re communicating with and what they’re communicating with,” Collins said.

The police department met yesterday to talk about the proposed ordinance.

They will be discussing it further next month.

Even if the ordinance is put into effect, judges will still have the right to charge a minor with a felony for child pornography if they think a specific case calls for it.

The department says if a minor receives a nude picture and reports it, they won’t be charged, however if they receive a nude picture and don’t report it they could be punished.

The Holmen Police Department said similar ordinances have already been passed in Stevens Point and New London.