Sexting Without Pictures

Published: May 14, 2012
Dear TeenHealthFX,

 

Hey I was wondering if it is legal to sext someone without sending pictures. I am talking about if it is a minor but is at the age of consent.

 

 

Signed: Sexting Without Pictures

Dear Sexting Without Pictures,

 

A blending of the words texting and sex has resulted in the phenomena known as Sexting. Sexting is generally recognized as the exchange of sexually-themed messages or pictures between mobile devices.

 

The laws concerning sexting are at this point are generally the same as laws that apply to the exchange of sexually explicit pictures of minors or communicating with a minor for immoral purposes.

 

Sending sexually suggestive text messages without pictures to a person you are certain is over the age of 18 is not a crime. However, just believing the person is over 18 could put you at risk for being prospected for a sexually based crime. “Communicating with a minor for immoral purposes” is a felony in most states and can have significant consequences.

Sending any kind of nude pictures of someone under 18 is illegal as it falls under child pornography laws.  Anybody that receives the picture, regardless of their age, can be charged unless they immediately report it to authorities.  

 

These legal ramifications can range in severity from federal and state criminal indictments to civil legal battles and have resulted in teens being convicted of felonies and misdemeanors receiving sentences of incarceration in Juvenal prison, or some other type of punishment. Some convictions have resulted in the individual being required to register as sex offenders.

 

There has been a growing debate in the legal community to give judges more latitude in sentencing these types of cases where juveniles are involved on a case by case basis. While there are juvenile sexual predators who should be subject to harsh penalties, the argument has be made that there are some cases where felony convictions and sex offender registration is not justified.

Criminal charges aren't the worst consequences. In at least two cases, sexting has been linked to suicide. Last year in Cincinnati, 18 year old girl hanged herself after weeks of ridicule at school. She had sent a nude cell phone picture to her boyfriend, and after they broke up, he forwarded the picture to other students. In a more recent case a 13-year-old girl hanged herself, after relentless taunting at her school near Tampa, Fla. She had sent a nude photo of herself to a boy she liked, and another girl used his phone to send the picture to other students who forwarded it along.

 

Here are some pretty good reasons not to text or email naked pictures of yourself to others, no matter how close you are, and even if you are in a serious relationship.

 

·         Once you hit send, the contents of your message are out of your control.

·         You picture could be forwarded, saved or posted at any time now or in the future.

·         If you break-up with a partner, or get into a fight with a friend, that person could share your picture with other people as a form of revenge.

·         Though you might feel comfortable sharing a naked picture with someone today, you might feel really differently tomorrow.

 

Signed: TeenHealthFX

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