Technology makes it easy for teenagers to share personal pictures and videos with their friends, family and even complete strangers. Unfortunately, many teens take advantage of this technology to share sexually explicit photos of themselves and others, otherwise known as "sexting." In fact, sexting has become so common amongst young people that authorities now have to update current child pornography laws in Virginia.
Currently, in most states, any sexually explicit picture of a minor is considered child pornography. That means, even teens who share nude selfies can be charged with a felony. A felony can result in serious consequences, including long jail sentences and being required to register as a sex offender for the rest of their lives.
Fortunately for teens that have been caught sexting, politicians and law enforcement officials all across the nation are working to lessen the penalties. Twenty states have adopted sexting laws with less severe consequences, and twelve other states may be implementing sexting laws this year.
Teen sexting is considered a misdemeanor in eleven states. Some states even allow teens to take courses on the risks of social media in lieu of criminal charges.
Sexting has become a significant part of teen culture, and lawmakers in Virginia and other states are facing this reality. By implementing new sexting laws, separate from child pornography laws, teens will no longer have their lives ruined forever just for sending a suggestive selfie.
Source: ABC News, "Teen Sexting Prompts Efforts to Update Child-Porn Laws," Kristen Wyatt, March 17, 2016