Punish perpetrators, not their parents
Texas State Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, has proposed a measure to the Texas Legislature that, if passed, would allow judges to sentence the parents of sexting teens to go through an educational course on the harms of sexting. While sexting is a problem that needs to be dealt with — especially when it comes to teenagers — Watson's proposal is asinine. There is no reason to punish the parents for their teens' behaviors. Ultimately, the responsibility lies with the teenagers themselves. They are, after all, the ones engaging in misconduct.
There comes a time in a child's life when their failures are no longer the fault of their parents. Teenagers sending sexts to one another have reached that point. It is not a parents' responsibility to go through their teen's inbox or personally oversee every text message they send. Sure, a parent should be responsible for instilling in their child the proper values and alerting them of the possible dangers of a practice like sexting. Even then, if a parent fails to do so, a teenager should know better. Teenagers are old enough to make informed decisions. As such, they are old enough to bear the sole responsibility for their actions.
In punishing parents, the state of Texas is sending the message that teenagers only make poor decisions when their parents have not properly educated them. This is a ridiculous message to send. As anyone who has ever been a teenager is aware, that's a time in one's life during which they are most prone to disregard all of their parent's commands. Often, they disregard those commands on purpose, to rebel or assert their independence. A teen can have the most loving and caring parents in the world and still decide to start sexting. In such a situation, a judge would be essentially punishing parents for having a teenage son or daughter.
If the state of Texas is going to start blaming parents for the shortcomings of their maturing children, it might as well start blaming every bad influence those children may or may not have had. How about television shows like MTV's "Skins," which portray high school students engaging in all sorts of raucous debauchery? Or, going back even further, Texas can start blaming the various Disney Channel shows marketed towards young teenagers, which portray oddly mature relationships between 14-year-olds. The point is it is just as absurd to blame these television shows and other cultural influences, as it is to blame the parents. If a teenager messes up and sends a sext, the teenager is responsible. They should be the only ones who have to suffer the consequences.