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Sexting among teens and tweens is a relatively new phenomenon, and many state legislatures are still trying to determine what to do about it.
Because of this, laws concerning sexting vary widely. It can be easy to assume your child would never sext someone else, but kids often feel pressure to exchange sexual messagesimages, or videos, so taking the time to have an open conversation with them can give them the opportunity to express any concerns. If you need extra support, Bark can help by alerting you about sexual content so you can talk through issues if your kid experiences them. These can be nude or semi-nude images or just explicit texts. Typically, sexting occurs via text message, but any electronic transfer fits the definition — ing, sending Instagram DMs, Snapchat selfies, and even TikTok messages.
When sexting involves minors, it violates both state and federal child pornography laws. But these laws can be very broad. For instance, federal law considers any sexually suggestive image of a minor to be child pornography. The government can prosecute anyone for the production, distribution, reception, and possession of child pornography.
It follows that sexting and possessing a sext of a minor is illegal. This means the government can prosecute someone even if they reasonably thought the sext was from an adult but was actually from. Simple possession is enough to be found guilty. While sexting can fall under the purview of child pornography laws, many states have laws that specifically address this issue.
However, these state laws vary as to whether:. For example, ten states including Utah, Florida, and Georgia have felony provisions for sexting. Meanwhile, ten other states including Pennsylvania, Nevada, and Texas have legal provisions to treat sexting as a violation. In these less punitive states, judges order a fine, counseling, or community service. When sexting occurs between two minors, state law varies in how to prosecute these cases. Generally, however, the laws treat sexting between minors with more levity than in child porn cases. For example, some states do not require sex offender registration, as is the case in Rhode Island, Vermont, and Nevada.
Consent can be a defense to sending or receiving sexts, but generally only when it occurs between two adults. Of these, only Nebraska treats consent as an affirmative defense if the sexting occurred between two minors.
Otherwise, as with statutory rape laws, minors cannot provide consent. Revenge porn happens when one person shares private explicit photos online or with others as payback. This can include paying money, performing illegal acts, or even sending more explicit photos. Many states explicitly consider revenge porn illegal, and these laws can apply to both minors and adults.
States with no laws to address revenge porn treat it as a crime under child pornography, harassment, and other law. If you discover that your child has been sexting, you might be tempted to take away their phone and punish them immediately. But that risks damaging your relationship, causing them to shut down and hide things from you.
Instead, be proactive about discussing the issue in a calm and thoughtful manner. Leave room for your child to ask questions, talk to them about affirmative consent, and provide resources that will help them think things through on their own. If your child does stray into troubling legal territory, putting together an action plan can help you to protect everyone involved. Parents should also be prepared to report more serious incidents to law enforcement if your child is being blackmailed or victimized online.
Some state governments, like California, are even still in the process of debating them. Bark is a comprehensive online safety solution that empowers families to monitor content, manage screen time, and filter websites to help protect their kids online. Our mission is to give parents and guardians the tools they need to raise kids in the digital age.
About Bark Bark is a comprehensive online safety solution that empowers families to monitor content, manage screen time, and filter websites to help protect their kids online. Start a free trial. Share via. Copy Link. Powered by Social Snap. Copy link. Copy Copied. Rhode Island. South Carolina. South Dakota. New Hampshire. New Jersey. New Mexico. New York. North Carolina. North Dakota. West Virginia.Girls wanting sex State Line
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