In some cases, it’s a crime for teens to sext. Should it be?
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Let’s talk about sexting, baby. And by sexting we mean sending and receiving nude photos, not just NSFW text messages. And in some cases, it’s a crime for teens to do it, one that carries some serious consequences. But should it be?
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Numerous research surveys and school scandals indicate that teens are engaging in sexting, and as technology and trends rapidly change it’s hard for parents, schools and the law to create rules around this behavior. On the one hand many think it’s no big deal when it happens consensually between underage parties— it’s just a part of sexual curiosity in the modern world with many adults doing it.
On the other hand, it’s seen as risky behavior that can hurt teens’ self esteem and leave them susceptible to revenge porn— the sharing of explicit images without permission. More and more laws are emerging to address some of these issues— you’ve got laws in 38 states specifically targeted at revenge porn in general, not just for the underage, where penalties range from simple misdemeanors to full blown felonies. In certain cases, teen sexting can fall under child pornography laws— which can have some pretty big criminal consequences. In fact, a new federal bill has passed in the U.S House of Representatives that would give teens a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years if they are caught sending, receiving or asking for a sext. It still needs to pass in the Senate before it can become law. Some states are taking a different approach making it only a minor crime or opting for educational programs in lieu of punishment when the people involved in the act are underage and its consensual.
Want to bring Above the Noise into the classroom? Check out our lesson plan other support materials:
U.S. Congress: H.R. 1761-Protecting Against Child Exploitation Act of 2017, June 2017
Dissenting Views to Accompany H.H1761: https://www.congress.gov/115/crpt/hrpt137/CRPT-115hrpt137.pdf
Cyberpsychology: Consensual sexting among adolescents: Risk prevention through abstinence education or safer sexting?: https://cyberpsychology.eu/article/view/4303/3352
Cyber Civil Rights: Revenge Porn Laws: https://www.cybercivilrights.org/revenge-porn-laws/
Essence: North Carolina Teen Couple Faces Felony Charges for Sexting Photos of Themselves
Sexting and Child Pornography Laws in the United States: https://www.roanokecriminalattorney.com/sexting-child-pornography-laws-united-states/
Amy Hasinoff: Safer Sexting Tips: https://amyhasinoff.wordpress.com/sexting-tips/
Pew Research Center: Teens and Sexting: http://www.pewinternet.org/2009/12/15/teens-and-sexting/
Teen Vogue: How to Handle Revenge Porn, From Lawyer Carrie Goldberg, http://www.teenvogue.com/story/how-to-handle-revenge-porn
Reason: House Overwhelmingly Supports Bill Subjecting Teen Sexters to 15 Years in Federal Prison, http://reason.com/blog/2017/05/31/house-overwhelmingly-supports-bill-subje
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KQED, an NPR and PBS affiliate in San Francisco, CA, serves Northern California and beyond with a public-supported alternative to commercial TV, Radio, and web media. Funding for Above the Noise is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Silver Giving Foundation, Stuart Foundation, and William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.