What do you think: should teens be charged with child pornography when caught sexting?

Surveys show that 20-60% of teens are "sexting," which includes sending sexually provocative messages or visual images to and from cell phones and computers.

When caught, some teens are being criminally charged for child pornography. Here's one such example in Washington State last week:

In some cases, if convicted of child pornography charges, the teen could face mandatory registration as a sex offender for life.

What do you think: should teens face such serious charges for sexting? If you don't agree with this approach, what other consequences do you think would be appropriate to prevent or reduce the volume of sexting that is occurring among teens?
In Topics: Children and cell phones, Children and the internet, Teen sexuality and dating
> 60 days ago



Wayne Yankus
Feb 1, 2010
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What the Expert Says:

It happened in NJ last week again.  The law has not caught up to intellectual property and social media. Good cooperative work with police, parents and the schools would generally solve the problem. Most of this behavior is simply stupid at best and mindless at worst. We do not need to criminalize children. Parents DO need to check cell phones and photos as well as history on computers.  The average male child starts checking out pornography in middle school. Locally last year in a similar incident the county prosecuter was ready to ruin young lives.  The school superintendent and the local police had a much better solution. They made the boys and girls delete all the photos in front of them, lose their library privileges for some time, and not march in the middle school graduation exercises, and give up their cell phones.

Wayne Yankus, MD, FAAP
expert panelist: pediatrics.

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