Beyond Criminalisation and Responsibilisation: Sexting, Gender and Young People
Current Issues in Criminal Justice, Vol. 24, No. 3, pp. 301-316, 2013
17 Pages Posted: 29 May 2013 Last revised: 7 Apr 2015
Date Written: May 28, 2013
In recent years, the prosecution of teenagers who use digital and online technology to produce and circulate erotic imagery (‘sexts’) under child pornography statutes has been the subject of sustained controversy. Debates over sexting have foregrounded the harms of criminalisation as well as the role of sexts in cyber-bullying and online child solicitation. While acknowledging the problematic dimensions of legal interventions in sexting, this article notes that patterns of relational coercion often begin in adolescence and that malicious sexting cases follow patterns similar to other forms of technologically facilitated gendered victimisation. The gendered dimensions of sexting are often overlooked in education campaigns that position girls and young women in ways that responsibilise them to reduce their own risk of victimisation. It is argued that efforts to prevent or intervene in the harms of sexting should consider the broader sociocultural role of digital and online technology in coercive control and dating abuse and also avoid a simplistic responsibilisation of potential victims.
Keywords: Sexting, Child Pornography, Young People, Gender, Criminalisation, Crime and New Technologies
JEL Classification: K10, K30
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation