Sexting which involves individuals transmitting explicit pics of themselves to their peers has produced a legal gray area in states that have stringent anti-child pornography laws, like the U.S.. Quite a few teens who have texted images of themselves, or of their friends or partners, are already charged with distribution of child pornography, while anyone who has received the pictures have been charged with having child pornography; in some cases, the possession charge was put on school administrators that have investigated sexting incidents as well. The images involved in sexting are frequently distinct both in character and motivation from the form of content material that anti-child pornography regulations were intended to target. Parents have legal and moral responsibilities for stopping or at least minimizing Sexting.
Sexting is made possible by developments in technology allowing new forms of social interaction. Messages with sexual content were exchanged over all forms of traditional media. More recent technology enables photos and videos, which are intrinsically a lot more explicit and have greater effect. A social hazard with sexting is the fact that content are often very quickly and widely spread, over which the originator doesn’t have control.
In 2008, a Virginia assistant principal was charged with possession of child pornography and related offences after he had been asked to check into a rumored sexting event at the high school where he worked. Upon finding a student in possession of a photo on his mobile phone that represented the torso of a girl wearing only underpants, her arms mostly covering her breasts, the assistant principal showed the image to the principal who instructed him to preserve the photograph on his computer as evidence, which he did. The judge later decided that the picture failed to amount to child pornography because under Virginia law, nudity alone just isn’t enough to qualify images as child pornography; the picture must be “sexually explicit”. Loudoun County Prosecutor James Plowman stands by his initial evaluation 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 distributing racy photos of herself to a fifteen year old student. In Fort Wayne, Indiana, a teenaged boy was indicted on felony obscenity charges for allegedly sending a photo of his genitals to several female classmates. Yet another young man was faced with child pornography in a comparable case.
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