Should Parents Be Punished If Their Kids Are Caught 'Sexting'?

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," February 10, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Culture Warriors" segment tonight: A proposed new law in Austin, Texas, would hold parents responsible if their children are found sexting. As you may know, the Internet makes it easy to send all kinds of inappropriate messages, and some children are doing that.

Here now, the "Culture Warriors," Gretchen Carlson and Margaret Hoover, who is in Washington tonight. All right, Hoover, do we need this kind of law? Do we need to hold parents responsible for what their kids are doing with the little machines?

MARGARET HOOVER, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, in a way, yes. Keep in mind, the current law, Bill, actually has it so that if these kids with their little machines are sending pictures to one another, which by the way, one in five girls are doing. They're sending pictures semi-nude or nude to each other. Currently under Texas law, they get a felony charge for that.

O'REILLY: That's a child pornography beef. But they are actually doing the activity. And I kind of feel bad, Carlson, for the parents, because...


O'REILLY: Here's why. You can't follow your kid around all day long.

CARLSON: No, but this begs for parent involvement. It's really easy for parents in this day and age to just say, "Hey, I give them a cell phone and do whatever you want."

O'REILLY: OK, that's wrong.

CARLSON: Well, that's what's happening.

O'REILLY: But I don't think parents are saying, "Here's a cell phone. Do everything you want."

CARLSON: Well, then here's what I would propose. Why not take the camera off your phone if you give it to your teen?

O'REILLY: OK, so give them the phone without the camera.

CARLSON: Or why hasn't somebody come up with an app that can sense - - that can sense when a picture has nudity in it, and it doesn't send?

O'REILLY: I don't know about the technology. I don't know anything about that. I don't think it's fair to hold parents responsible unless you can see and prove they're neglectful. Now, to be fair, this would just -- if you were prosecuted -- and the law is not going to be enacted, because it's just too broad -- they're not going to put them in jail. They're going to say, "You have to go to an educational course."

CARLSON: Maybe. It's up to the judge's discretion as to whether or not he or she...

O'REILLY: But that's what the Texas authorities say. If it ever passes, it would be you've got to go to an educational course, and they'll teach you how to block your children. It's not a bad thing. But I mean, in a day and age that we live in today, Hoover, it is almost impossible to keep kids away from this stuff.

HOOVER: It is, but, Bill, I think you're all wrong here. You want parental involvement in kids' lives, right? Laws and parents need to keep up with teenagers -- teenagers, technology and our culture. And this is a way of involving parents in the process of fixing bad behavior.

O'REILLY: All right. I like the idea of giving the kid a camera without -- a phone without the camera. I think that's good.

CARLSON: You agree with Carlson tonight?

O'REILLY: Yes, I've got to rethink that.


O'REILLY: I think that's a good solution. I don't think that the state can prosecute a parent.

CARLSON: They're not prosecuting the parent.

O'REILLY: Yes, they are. They're charging them with a crime and forcing them to go...

CARLSON: No, they're not. They're charging the child with a misdemeanor, under 18.

O'REILLY: Under this law in Austin, Texas, the parents would be charged and forced to go...

HOOVER: No, that's not true.

O'REILLY: go to an education thing.

CARLSON: Possibly forced to go to the education thing, not charged with a crime.

HOOVER: It's a class c misdemeanor.

O'REILLY: OK. Whether it's a civil or whatever, I think you're almost meeting an impossible standard there. All right. But it's not going to become law anyway, because it's way too broad, and you can't do it, not in America.

All right. Now, we have another controversy in Texas. Miss San Antonio apparently got booted, right?

CARLSON: Yes, she did.

O'REILLY: She got booted. She's not Miss San Antonio anymore.

CARLSON: It's now in the courts, so we'll see what happens.

O'REILLY: Yes, she's suing, and she says that one of the reasons she got booted is because she put on a little weight.

CARLSON: That's entirely not true.

O'REILLY: But that's what she says.

CARLSON: That's what she says. But the pageant right now, the local pageant and the Miss Texas organization -- and I have a statement from the Miss America organization, as well, and that's what this says: "We look forward to the Miss Texas organization investigating this situation. We are confident that they will handle the situation fairly, swiftly and take appropriate action."

Here's what the Texas pageant and San Antonio people are saying. That she did not show up for appearances. That she went to other paid appearances instead of going to the ones that her pageant was mandating.

O'REILLY: All right. So she -- you say that she misbehaved in other ways and is blaming it on a bogus weight issue.

CARLSON: Well, quite possibly. Let me be clear. The Miss America organization would never boot anybody for a weight issue.

O'REILLY: OK. Now, let's assume that Miss Ramirez is telling the truth, Hoover, OK? We'll give her the benefit of the doubt that she's telling the truth and that someone in the Miss San Antonio hierarchy said, "Look, you can't get into your original costume because you've had a few too many Eskimo bars." All right? "So you're not -- you can't be a contestant anymore."

CARLSON: That's preposterous.

O'REILLY: Stop it, stop it. Let's assume what she's saying is true. All right. That's unfair, or that's fair?

HOOVER: I -- Gretchen is the authority on pageants here.

O'REILLY: OK. Is -- we're assuming the woman is telling the truth. We're giving her the benefit of the doubt. She may be lying, but we're not doing that here. Is it fair or unfair to boot a beauty contestant because she puts on a few pounds?

HOOVER: The -- in the pageanting world, the pageants that I really support and I think are the great are the ones that Gretchen did. Focus not only on the woman's look but the content of her character and her skill set.

O'REILLY: All right. So you say it's unfair...

HOOVER: Know more about them to focus on than just their physical features.

CARLSON: Thank you for bringing that up, Margaret. There are different kinds of pageants. Miss America has an interview category and a talent category and a scholarship category, which by the way, they did not take away her scholarship money, which is important to point out.

O'REILLY: OK, good. All right. But you say it's unfair. You both say it's unfair. If you put on a few pounds, you don't boot her.

CARLSON: But that's not what happened here.

HOOVER: That's not what happened.

O'REILLY: OK. Again, you guys are -- you guys are calling -- I just want to be quite clear.

CARLSON: I talked to the Miss America organization.

O'REILLY: You're both calling Miss Ramirez a liar. That's what you're both doing. I am not...

HOOVER: No, we're not.

O'REILLY: Yes, you are. You're both calling her a liar. I am not willing to do that at this point. I got to go.

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