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States Rethink Sexting Laws

3775383689_5eb9031a25_mAfraid your teen might be using her cell phone to send naughty pictures to her boyfriend?

You probably don’t want your kids sending or receiving sexy texts for a variety of reasons, but one of the biggest threats is starting to be tamed. States are rethinking how they handle these cases legally, according to the New York Times. Many are moving away from using child pornography laws to go after kids who pass nude photos of themselves to a partner or friend.

That’s good news for parents and teens. Dozens of teenagers have been prosecuted for creating, distributing or possessing child pornography because they got caught with a dirty picture of a friend or lover on their cell phones. In some cases, teens have been deemed child pornographers because they had naughty pictures of themselves.

These child pornography charges are felonies that land kids on the sex offender registry for life, in addition to risking fines, jail time and all the joys of job hunting with a criminal record as a sex offender.

Finally, many state legal experts seem to be noticing that this isn’t the best approach to dealing with kids who exercise poor judgment about whether and how to use technology to flirt with each other.

Per the NYT:

“The child pornography law was about protecting children from pedophiles,” Professor Adler said. “While sexting is bad judgment, it’s simply not what the Supreme Court had in mind when it crafted the child pornography law. It just doesn’t make sense that in a lot of the sexting situations, the pornographer and the victim are one and the same person.”

Most kids know better. Only a small percentage of teens have ever sent or received a sext. But for those who do, states are looking to bring the punishments more in line with the “crime”, by making it a misdemeanor or a ticketable offense like truancy and graffiti.

I would hope my teen isn’t engaging in sexting with any of his friends. But if he were, I wouldn’t want him to be facing prison and a lifelong criminal record for it.

Photo: The Accent

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