Nude photos, lewd text messages, and other intimate visual and written material on cell phones and smartphones are becoming a hot topic in the media. While this may result in serious consequences for adults if caught, teenage sexting poses even greater problems. According to GuardChild. An even larger percentage of teens — 39 percent — have sent suggestive text messages, emails, or instant messages IMs.
By Mark Theoharis. Since cell phones first saw widespread adoption in the s, they've become not just ever present, but have developed vastly expanded capabilities, such as the ability to take and instantly share photos. Some states have adopted laws that prescribe penalties aimed specifically at teenagers or adolescents who send such photos. These laws make the penalties for teen sexting less severe than if an adult would send similar photos to an under-age person.
Is Sexting Illegal?
Sexting among teens and tweens is a relatively new phenomenon, and many state legislatures are still trying to determine what to do about it. Because of this, laws concerning sexting vary widely. These can be nude or semi-nude images or just explicit texts. Typically, sexting occurs via text message, but any electronic transfer fits the definition — emailing, sending Instagram DMs, Snapchat selfies, and even TikTok messages.
DENVER AP — Rampant teen sexting has left politicians and law enforcement authorities around the country struggling to find some kind of legal middle ground between prosecuting students for child porn and letting them off the hook. Most states consider sexually explicit images of minors to be child pornography, meaning even teenagers who share nude selfies among themselves can, in theory at least, be hit with felony charges that can carry heavy prison sentences and require lifetime registration as a sex offender. Many authorities consider that overkill, however, and at least 20 states have adopted sexting laws with less-serious penalties, mostly within the past five years. Eleven states have made sexting between teens a misdemeanor; in some of those places, prosecutors can require youngsters to take courses on the dangers of social media instead of charging them with a crime. Hawaii passed a law saying youths can escape conviction if they take steps to delete explicit photos. Arkansas adopted a law sentencing first-time youth sexters to eight hours of community service. New Mexico last month removed criminal penalties altogether in such cases. At least 12 other states are considering sexting laws this year, many to create new a category of crime that would apply to young people.