The Dark Side of Youth Texting in California

Have you ever taken a nude photo of yourself via your cell phone and sent it to your significant other? Maybe you haven’t, but a growing number of teenagers are doing just that. It has become so common that a term has been created for this act; sexting.

While sexting may have parents wanting to confiscate their teenagers cell phones, is it really a criminal act? According to current laws, teenagers who send or forward a nude or risqué photo of themselves or another individual are treated like child pornographers and can be charged with distributing child pornography and have to register as a sex offender. Once again it appears the law has yet to catch up with technology. There is no disputing that a teenager sending or forwarding a nude photo of themselves or another can have very negative consequences and be severely damaging. However, to say this act is equivalent to the acts pornography laws were originally intended for, is lacking insight. Like most situations, teen sexting is not black and white. While a young man sending a nude photo to his willing girlfriend is bad judgment, if she then forwards this photo to her friends, this appears to be a criminal matter. However, does this make her or her friends who then forward it pornographers?

While some states are taking a look into their laws and realizing that they need to be updated to take into consideration varying situations, others have yet to act. Why is this so scary? Because your son, daughter, niece, nephew, or grandchild could be the next “sex offender” for one moment of bad judgment and curiosity. What is your state’s stance?

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