Academic journal article Faulkner Law Review

Sexting: Risky or (F)risky? an Examination of the Current and Future Legal Treatment of Sexting in the United States

Academic journal article Faulkner Law Review

Sexting: Risky or (F)risky? an Examination of the Current and Future Legal Treatment of Sexting in the United States

Article excerpt

"The spurned underage teen sulks in her bedroom, mourning the lost relationship with a boy. She doesn't want it to end. She loves him, or at least she thinks she does. She'll do anything to keep him in her life. She pulls out her cell phone and removes her clothing. She snaps a nude self-portrait to send to the boy. 'See what you're missing?' she taps on the tiny keypad before sending it off ... The boy receives the picture on his cell phone. He can't believe what he sees. Titillated by it, he forwards it to several friends. They forward it to more people. Before long, most of the school sees the image of the minor girl trying to lure back her ex-boyfriend." (1)

"Katelyn was 15 years old and in love with her 16-year-old boyfriend, Dillon. So, when he asked her to take a naked picture of herself with her cell phone and send it to him, she did. She thought this would be something just the two of them could share and that doing so would show him how much she loved him. But when Dillon broke up with her three weeks later, she started noticing kids at her school giggling behind her back. She soon realized why this was happening when her two best friends came to her and showed her their cell phones, which contained the picture she had sent to Dillon. Her friends told her that the picture had been forwarded to them ... and that almost everyone in school had seen the photo or now had it on their phone ... She was called printable names like slut, whore, and easy ... Katelyn was devastated. Her grades dropped and she no longer wanted to go to school or socialize with other kids ..." (2)

"Heather sent a copy of the picture only to John and he was discrete enough not to share that picture with anyone else, but he did not delete it from his cell phone. John took the cell phone to school and was caught text messaging during class in violation of school policy. The cell phone was confiscated and school personnel believed it to be necessary to look through the phone and found the picture. School authorities decided to report the matter to the police and to contact John's parents. His parents wanted the police to also investigate whether charges should be filed against Heather as the picture was taken at her request with her cell phone." (3)


The term "sexting" refers to the "practice of sending or posting sexually suggestive text messages and images," via cellular phones or over the internet. (4) Typically, a person will take the nude or semi-nude picture of him or herself with a digital camera or a cell phone camera. (5) Sometimes, the person will ask another to take the sexually suggestive picture. (6) That picture is then stored as a digitized image and sent via text message or picture message on a cell phone, emailed by computer, or posted to an internet website like Facebook or MySpace. (7) Although virtually anyone can transmit sexually explicit photographs, the issue of sexting has gained public attention because of teen conduct. (8)

Sexting is a practice that has become popular among teenagers in recent years and seems to have no geographic boundaries. (9) Reported studies show that approximately twenty to forty percent of American teens have been involved in some type of nude sexting. (10) In the fall of 2008, The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy conducted a survey of teens and young adults to explore the proportion of teens and young adults sending or posting sexually suggestive text and picture messages. (11) The survey was compiled of 1,280 participants--653 teens (ages thirteen to nineteen) and 627 young adults (ages twenty to twenty-six)--between September 25th and October 3rd of 2008. (12) The survey revealed that "twenty percent of teens have sent or posted nude or semi-nude pictures or videos of themselves." (13) "Thirty-eight percent of teen girls and thirty-nine percent of teen boys say that they have had sexually suggestive text messages or emails, originally meant for someone else, shared with them. …

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