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.
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.
New Area of the Law
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.
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. To get state specific details regarding sexting, jump ahead to teen sexting laws by state. Sexting laws are a relatively new phenomena in the law.