Here in Colorado, ‘Internet Luring’ is defined as “communicating with a child under 15 and more than four years younger than yourself about anything sexually explicit, then subsequently as part of the same communication, inviting or persuading the child to meet with you in person for any purpose.”
That sounds pretty comprehensive, and in fact it is — a little too comprehensive, actually.
The Parent Trap
For example, it’s pretty trivial to imagine a situation in which a parent texts her 14-year-old son about an experience he had with a girl at school. Then the mother proceeds to tell him to meet her in the school parking lot after class. By the definition above, it takes only one mention of any sexually explicit word — that are plentiful in the vocabularies of 14-year-old boys — to turn that interaction into Internet luring.
Captain of the Team
What if you’re the high-school Senior captain of the cheerleading squad, and you hop into a chatroom to talk to your teammates about possibly redesigning next year’s uniforms? All it takes is one classically-teenage mention of boobs, followed by ‘hey, Lisa’s having a party tomorrow, who wants to go with me?’ If there’s one Freshman on the squad who happens to have a birthday after yours, oops! Sorry, Captain: you’re guilty of a Class 5 felony that could get you 1-3 years in jail and a literal lifetime of supervision, not to mention your name on the sex offender registry.
Can you see where this is going?
Obviously, this law is well intentioned — and some law to prevent actual sadists and sexual criminals from luring children using the anonymity of the Web needs to exist. As the law is written, this law is capable of ripping apart families and destroying lives.
How much less effective would this be if the law was written to, for example, change the phrase “any purpose” to “for the purpose of sexual exploitation, contact, or grooming?” Or to add in the phrase “…that is not your son or daughter” after “communicating with a child”? These are the kinds of details that can make or break a law — and this one, sadly, is broken.