A recent government crackdown on “sexting” in Arkansas has prompted many teenagers to abandon their cellphones and rely on the state’s 179 rural post offices to send provocative letters and photographs to their peers.
As of August, a teenager who is caught sexting — sending sexually explicit messages or images by cellphone — can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor and sentenced to eight hours of community service.
Senate Bill 829 clarifies that this aggressive new policy not only applies to blatant nudity, but also to photos of “covered male genitals in a discernibly turgid state.” Lawmakers have considered rewording this phrase after a recent poll revealed that less than 1 percent of Arkansas teens understand what “a discernibly turgid state” means.
Paul Wallis, a 17-year-old from Sturkie, said he and more than 20 “pen pals” who live in small communities around the state stocked up on stamps, envelopes and disposable cameras after they heard about two Batesville teens who were recently caught sexting.
“My women and I figured out that we can use post offices to send our love, so there’s no chance of getting caught and doing community service,” Wallis said. He added that his penmanship and photography skills have improved significantly since he retired his cellphone.
Frank Harvey, Sturkie’s postmaster, said he and a number of other Arkansas postal officials have seen a drastic increase in rural post offices’ profits.
“We never could have guessed that all these hormonal kids would pay for P.O. boxes, but we sure are happy about it,” Harvey said.