Much has been said about the habits teens have in using technology. Undoubtedly, many of them are unwise, but even the most attentive parents may have trouble preventing their kids from engaging in such behaviors. According to Time, in fact, most teens admit to sexting before they turn 18. Though you may expect your kid to exchange some questionable text messages, you likely would not expect it to result in criminal charges. This is a possibility, though, and there are many reasons such laws are unfair.
They are outdated and irrelevant
Many of the laws that are used to regulate teen sexting were written and enacted in the 1990s and early 2000s, to address the emergence of online child pornography. Outdated laws that were created for an entirely different issue are now being applied to text messages shared between teenagers. The laws are both irrelevant to teen sexting and out of date.
They are punitive
The laws that are often applied to teen sexting cases are, in many instances, for such crimes as child pornography. Because they were written and intended for crimes of this severity, they are often punitive in nature. Rather than educating teens on the importance of safety on the web and conscientious communication, penalties can often include the potential for a prison sentence and registry on the sex offender list. Needless to say, these consequences are disproportionate.
Sexting is typically consensual
Though teen sexting is inadvisable at best, it is undeniable that it is consensual in most cases. If coercion is involved, that is a different story, but most cases simply involve teenagers making poor choices. The entire purpose of a criminal law is to protect people from harm, but one must ask who the victim is when two teenagers are consensually exchanging text messages. It is essentially a victimless crime, and this makes the necessity of such laws unclear.
The stakes are too high
Because many teen sexting cases involve laws that carry the potential for a felony conviction, the stakes are simply too high for an offense such as teen sexting. If convicted, a teen could become ineligible to serve in the military, become employed in certain sectors or receive state and federal financial aid. In short, a conviction could have catastrophic effects on a young adult’s future.
If your teen is in trouble because they sent or received messages of a sexual nature, you should be aware of your legal options. Consulting with an attorney may be the best way to get the information and assistance you need .