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As the use of mobile devices has gained in popularity, so has an activity associated with them: sexting.
According to Ph D Elizabeth Hartney, sexting is “the act of sending sexually explicit material through text messages,” and the results of doing so seem to crop up as headlines more and more frequently.
Many more states are considering legislation that establish penalties for minors, which include warnings, fines, probation and detention.
States that have enacted sexting laws include: Arizona Arkansas Connecticut Florida Georgia Hawaii Illinois Louisiana Nebraska Nevada New Jersey New York North Dakota Pennsylvania Rhode Island South Dakota Texas Utah Vermont West Virginia In states without specific sexting legislation, the possession of sexually explicit material portraying minors falls under child pornography laws that have the potential to result in felony charges registration as a sex offender.
From disgraced New York Mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner, to teen sexting cases in Colorado, Ohio, and Connecticut, sexting seems to be gaining in popularity despite the damaging consequences that can result.
Bullying prevention advocate Sherri Gordon has identified a slew of potential repercussions that could result from sexting including embarrassment, humiliation, loss of friendships as well as feelings of guilt, shame, and hopelessness.
Though in most states teenagers who are close in age can legally have consensual sex, if they create and share sexually explicit images of themselves, they are technically producing, distributing or possessing child pornography.
Don’t look at the pictures — viewing or distributing them could result in you being charged with possessing child pornography.
Licensed clinical social worker Amy Morin suggests several steps to take if you find that your child is participating in sexting.
You should consider whether there is a legal issue, and if so, contact a lawyer who specializes in sex crimes in your state.
But those aren’t the only consequences to be concerned about — sexting can result in a tarnished reputation which could affect the potential for career opportunities and scholastic pursuits. An adult who sends or receives sexually explicit material of someone under the age of 18 is subject to prosecution under federal law, which could result in hefty fines and incarceration.
Because sexting has become so popular amongst teens, many states have enacted specific laws that address sexting by minors under the age of 18, or even 17 in some cases.