Sexting that involves people transmitting explicit pictures of themselves to their friends has brought about a legal grey area in nations that have tight anti-child pornography laws and regulations, for example the United States. A few teenagers that have texted photographs of themselves, or of their pals or lovers, have been charged with distribution of child pornography, although those who have received the images have been arrested for having child pornography; in some cases, the possession charge was applied to school administrators who have looked into sexting incidents as well. The photographs associated with sexting are usually different in the character and motivation from the kind of content that anti-child pornography laws were intended to address. Parents possess legal and moral responsibility for stopping or at least minimizing Sexting.
Sexting is a result of improvements in technology permitting new sorts of social interaction. Messages with sexual content are actually exchanged over all kinds of traditional media. Newer technology enables pictures and videos, which are intrinsically a lot more explicit and have increased effect. A social risk with sexting is the fact that material are often very quickly and broadly spread, that the author doesn’t have control.
In 2008, a Virginia assistant principal was faced with having child pornography and associated offences after he had been asked to look into a rumored sexting episode at the high school where he worked. Upon finding a student in possession of an image on his phone which represented the upper body of a girl wearing only underpants, her arms mostly covering her breasts, the assistant principal showed the image to the principal who advised him to retain the picture on his computer as proof, which he did. The court later decided that the picture did not amount to child pornography due to the fact under Virginia law, nudity alone is not sufficient to qualify a picture as child pornography; the image has to be “sexually explicit”. Loudoun County Prosecutor James Plowman stands by his original assessment of the image and claims he would not have pursued the case if the assistant principal had agreed to resign. Instead, the assistant principal got a second mortgage on his house and spent $150,000 in attorneys’ fees to clear his name.
In July 2010, Londonderry High School teacher Melinda Dennehy pled guilty and received a one-year suspended sentence for posting racy pictures of herself to a fifteen year old pupil. In Fort Wayne, Indiana, a teenage boy was indicted on felony obscenity charges for allegedly distributing a photo of his genital area to several female classmates. Yet another boy was arrested for child pornography in a comparable case.
Two southwest Ohio teens had been arrested for contributing to the delinquency of a minor, a first-degree misdemeanor, for transmitting or having naked pictures on their phones of two 15-year-old classmates.
Vermont lawmakers introduced a bill in April 2009 to legalize the consensual exchange of graphic pictures in between two people 13 to 18 years of age. Transferring along such images to other people would continue to be a crime.
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