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Posts Tagged ‘sexting’

Here is one for my under 30 years of age readers. I am looking for comments (and enlightenment). I will give my view in a later post. According to an article in the New York Times, a 14 year old girl in New Jersey was arrested for child pornography because she posted a sexually explicit picture of herself on MySpace. In response to the number of criminal charges being brought against minors for “sexting,” several states have passed legislation removing this conduct from felony status. A federal court of appeals recently prevented a Pennsylvania prosecutor from bringing child pornography charges against some 12 and 13 year old girls who took some risqué photos at a slumber party. It seems that teenagers like to take and send photos of themselves in various states of undress. The problem is possessing and distributing these photos is considered child pornography in many states – a felony, with jail time, and the obligation to register as a sex offender. Clearly, the lawmakers did not anticipate this new trend. It also appears that there is a wide range of “sexting” activities from sexually suggestive to explicit.

Essentially, there are three situations which need to be addressed when those under 18 engage in the following activities: (1) posting or sending a sexually explicit photo of yourself to someone under the age of 18, (2) posting or sending a photo of yourself and another person which is sexually explicit, and (3) republishing a sexually explicit photo that someone else sent you privately. Do any of these activities warrant a felony charge? Do any warrant a misdemeanor charge? Should any be addressed in the juvenile justice system? Should any be decriminalized? How should these situations be handled from a legal perspective?

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