“Sexting” – Should Teens Be Considered a Protected Class Immune from Porn Charges?

Officials in Passaic County, New Jersey reached a plea agreement this week with a 14-year-old charged with possession and distribution of child pornography.   If the young woman keeps a clean record and participates in counseling for six months, the charges will be dropped against her.  The teen received the porn charges after posting nude pictures of herself on MySpace.com.

Understandably prosecutors and parents alike would like to stop the trend of “sexting” that is currently embraced by young adults.  “Sexting” occurs when teens, especially girls, send risqué or nude pictures of themselves via text message or by posting on-line.  But these impulsive choices can result in long-term consequences once these photos become infinitely passed on from one device to another, and then all over the internet. 

However, is prosecution of the subjects of these photos really warranted?  For example, the Mann Act, enacted in 1910, is a federal law that bans the transportation of women across state lines for “immoral purposes,” primarily prostitution.  Interestingly, women were immune from prosecution under the Act as a “protected class.”   The purpose of the act is to prevent the exploitation of woman and to punish the wrongful actors in this conduct, rather than the women themselves.

The same notion should apply to child pornography laws.  These laws are passed to protect children from exploitation.  A child who takes and then distributes a nude photograph of herself isn’t engaging in the kind of wrongful conduct meant to be punished under the child pornography laws.  It is senseless to punish the victim in this case, even if it is a self-made victim.

Opinions expressed are the author’s alone.

(Unbiased) Article from NJ.com.

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