Sexting that involves people transmitting explicit images of themselves to their friends has led to a legal grey area in countries which have tough anti-child pornography rules, for example , the United States. Quite a few teens that have texted photographs of themselves, or of their friends or partners, have already been charged with distribution of child pornography, while those who have received the photographs have been charged with possession of child pornography; in some cases, the possession charge was put on school administrators that have investigated sexting incidents as well. The photos involved in sexting usually are distinct in the nature and motivation from the form of content that anti-child pornography laws and regulations were intended to address. Parents possess legal and ethical responsibility for stopping or at least minimizing Sexting.
In 2007, 32 Australian teenagers from the state of Victoria were prosecuted because of sexting activity. Child pornography charges were brought against six teens in Greensburg, Pennsylvania in January 2009 right after 3 girls sent sexually explicit photographs to 3 male classmates.
In 2008, a Virginia assistant principal was charged with having child pornography and related offences after he had been asked to investigate a rumored sexting episode at the high school where he worked. Upon finding a student in possession of a picture on his cell phone which depicted the torso 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 keep the picture on his computer as evidence, which he did. The court later decided that the picture did not constitute child pornography because under Virginia law, nudity alone is not sufficient to qualify a picture as child pornography; the picture must be “sexually explicit”. Loudoun County Prosecutor James Plowman stands by his initial evaluation of the photograph and states 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 giving racy images of herself to a teenage student. In Fort Wayne, Indiana, a teenage boy was indicted on felony obscenity charges for allegedly distributing a photo of his genitals to several female classmates. Yet another boy was charged with child pornography in a comparable case.
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