When does teen sexting become child porn?

24 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

When does teen sexting become child porn?.

In Fayetteville, N.C. tow teens were accused of being both the victims of child pornography and the perpetrators of the crime. — When authorities discovered that a high school couple had sent each other nude selfies, the two 16-year-olds were plunged into a legal morass with the potential to be branded sex offenders for life. And under a quirk in the law, the legal system treated them as adults for purposes of prosecuting them, but also considered them minors by deeming their selfies child pornography.

The laws, some written decades ago, carry stiff penalties including prison time and a requirement to register as a sex offender. “No one even imagined how easy it would be for anybody to have a little device in their pocket with pictures like this,” said Diana Graber, co-founder of Cyberwise, a group that teaches online safety for parents and teachers. A sheriff’s office investigator found an explicit picture of his girlfriend and determined she was under 18, initiating the sexting investigation, Swain said.

It led to months of uncertainty for the teens, who are now 17, until they finally struck deals in recent weeks to reduce the charges and give them a pathway to clearing their records. In July and September, respectively, they were given a year of probation during which they must stay in school, abstain from drugs or alcohol and agree not to possess a cellphone. Indeed, The Fayetteville Observer’s first story about the case was focused on his suspension from his team. “Dissemination to third parties is where you get into very serious issues. Paul Stam, R-Wake, who helped pass a law in 1990 to help crack down on child porn, said it could be re-crafted to address selfies, but he’s worried about making any exemptions too broad.

The researchers conducted a national survey of law enforcement agencies and concluded that that when it comes to sexting, “most police do not arrest youth in cases that come to police attention.” Elizabeth Englander, a Bridgewater State University psychology professor, said prosecuting minors for sexting can have a negative psychological impact. “Where you have two kids who are in a relationship, they’re not trying to exploit each other … and they’re exchanging these kinds of photos, it seems to me that the cure is worse than the disease,” she said.

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