Unsafe Sexting: The Dangerous New Trend and the Need for Comprehensive Legal Reform
affiliation not provided to SSRN
Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law, Vol. 9, No. 1, 2011
Teenage "sexting"-- the practice of taking nude or semi-nude photographs and distributing them via cell phone text messages -- has been in and out of the media spotlight for several years. While the media often rightly focuses on these incidents from a bullying standpoint, most people are not fully aware of the potentially devastating legal consequences that could stem from these instances of so-called juvenile naivete. Federal and state child pornography laws make it illegal to create, possess, or distribute explicit images of a minor and, while these laws were enacted to protect children from adult predators, there is nothing in the language of most current legislation that prohibits the prosecution of minors -- even those who willingly take and send pictures of themselves. This article attempts to delve deeper into the sexting trend, exploring its psychological motivations and implications, as well as the legal consequences that may stem from pressing "send." Finally, the article proposes a more appropriate way to address sexting -- a combination between criminal sanctions and preventative education -- and suggests redrawing the line that would trigger legal action.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 35
Keywords: sexting, juvenile, child pornography, psychological, sex offender, bullying
Date posted: July 6, 2012