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Readers Respond: Teen Sexting: What Should the Laws Be?

Responses: 42

By

With many communities talking about teen sexting and discussing the changes in the sex offender laws to reflect the true intent of sexting by teens and differentiate it from the intent of a child molester, I feel parents need to have their voices heard. Here is where we can do that. So I am asking, if your teenager sent a nude or semi-nude picture to a boyfriend/girlfriend and it was distributed throughout their school, what do you feel the appropriate punishment should be from the school officials and law enforcement?

Counter-Productive to Sex Offender Laws

I do feel that kids need to be held accountable for their actions, especially malicious actions involving exchange of explicit material. However, accusing them of being sexual predators and having a legacy of being a registered sex offender seems a punishment that is at least a little off-target. In the long run, it may even be counter-productive concerning the real sex offenders, causing people to discount the "registered sex offender" tag.
—Guest clgolden

Unconstitutional

Teens and very young adults use sexting as an escape and a fantasy table they use the sexting as a relief from their sexual desires and the way the government punishes could be counted as cruel and unusual punishment due to the fact that a man can murder somebody and get out of prison after five years is wrong and sending somebody to prison for sixteen years for possessing a nude pic.. Do away with the law
—Guest That guy

Educate to Prevent

I am the mother of a 13 year old son who I do monitor. I go thru his phone regurlarly but I have found pictures of a girl his age in his phone wearing nothing but her underwear. I was surprised to find it since he knew I would go thru his phone. I wasn't aware of any laws prosecuting teens at the time or I would've explained that to him then. I did what I thought any parent would do though and called her parents only to hear kids will be kids. I find a lot of parents, like myself, are also unaware of how this will affect their children. My son didn't ask for her to send the photo and yet he would also be charged. I do find that girls are turning into porn stars by this means of distribution. Pressure or not the parents do need to intervene and teach their children morals. Needless to say, my own son hasn't had a cell phone since. I don't think children really need a cell phone or any kind of technology that freely at their fingertips. After all, we lived without it.
—Guest motherofteen

The Answer For Sexting

Sexting should be a crime and should remain so but I am a teen with an opinion on this issue. Our lives could be ruined by these charges, counciling or probation would be best, instead of prison or felony charges. That's just overkill on our lives, some of us might be planning on doing productive things in society and accusations like that might destroy our plans. I think if parents really care about what their child is up to they should take the time to tell them that it is wrong and could have serious consequences. There should be no need for such harsh punishments. Although I do not belive that the punishments for malicious distribution of the pictures should receive the same punishments, because those pictures can destroy a persons social and professional life from then on. A more fitting punishment would be a substantial fine plus community service.
—Guest Josh

Sexting and Accountibility

I have 2 teenage boys who have received pics from girls. I immediantely took phones and internet away and contacted parents. The sad thing about this whole situation is not all parents find it alarming that their child is sending these pics out! After contacting parents, I spoke with local police and they charge even the receiver of the pics. When I asked even if they are not solicitated, they stated YES! I have begun my own community awareness on the subject and have found some alarming statistics. Some parents care and don't know what can happen or don't understand the devices well enough to monitor, or they just don't care, and say kids will be kids. ALL parents need to get educated on this subject so that we are not forced to visit our kids through the jailhouse glass!! I have always been a very proactive parent and never saw this coming. I have had parents tell me I am being over protective, but if it means my kids will not go to jail, I will remain over protective.
—concernedparentof2

New laws needed

I think the system needs an overhaul! The laws regarding "sexting" are absurd and unreasonable. To prosecute somebody and require they spend up to 16 years In prison and register as a sex offender is just unbelievable! Don't we have better things to worry about than who is sexting who.... How about we do away with texting all together! Teens whether 13 or 19 should not be sent to prison for such a Stupid crime
—Guest Karen Griffin

Nip It Where It Starts!

I accidently picked up my 15 yr old sisters phone and saw that she was send her boyfriend naked pics of herself and I was extremely angry. I have read some of these comments and I feel that the sender (my sister) should have some serious consequences so that then she can know that it isn't ok to do that. I don't think she should be labeled a sex offender but I do think that the punishment by law should be very heavy. This is something that we have to do to save our young people. I am only 27 and sometimes i think back to when i watch an old movie and how they portray the whores in the movie and nowadays what they did or how they dressed was conservative compared to now. We keep making changes to whats acceptable because "times are changing". But morals don't. Right is right and wrong is wrong and it is the guardian's job to make sure these young people make the best decisions possible. So if you don't punish the sender then punish their parents.I bet minors sexting wouldn't be a topic!
—Guest Tiffany

Tell Your Adolescent About Danger

Celebrities restrict the possession of all audio and video recording devices in their private spaces. Furthermore, the more resigned and sensible person of any fame. has long resisted the urge to send an email Or leave s voice mail that's "private' and perhaps, unflattering. Young people must learn people, with too many casualties already. All media has its way of going digital. You're in charger of privacy that can not be restored.
—Guest Paul

Your kids

What happens when your child sends a picture of herself naked to a boyfriend, they break up and he shares it across his social network via sextmessage. If its sent to an adult(18+) and they are caught with it its a FELONY SEX OFFENSE. But she started the chain of the picture. Possession and distribution of pornography of a minor is a crime. Just because they are underage doesn't mean they shouldn't be charged. If you don't wanna charge the kid, then why charge the old man looking at the same pictures.(not my suggestion and I find it sickening) If they participate in adult activities, they should be charged as adults!
—Guest j

Sexting for minors

I don't feel that sexting among teens should be illegal sending our children to prision and or having them tagged as sex offenders for the rest of their lives for heat of the moment sexting with their boy or girlfriend is utterly ridiculous counciling them or probation for first offenders is more appropriate then more severe punishment to follow if they keep upnthe behavior since most teens do not even realize that it is a crime or even think anything is wrong with it in the first place. Besides would you rather they actually have sex? This is safer. Don't get me wrong I do not approve of this behavior in teens at all iam old school no sex before marriage and all but they don't give murderers sentences that long or severe come on guys have a little common sense here has all of our leaders gone completely mad? Just remember one thing these youth are going to be our leaders some day how would you politicians like it if one of these fine youth pass legislation that you all should die?
—Guest John

Shocked

Shortly after daughters 14th birthday I discovered she had sex texted. Phone internet were closely monitored because of age and recent personality changes-lots of anger. I called the boy and told him that the police were being contacted, if her pictures were found on his phone or they had been forwarded, he and everyone else involved could be charged with possession & distribution of child pornography. Hopefully all pics were deleted. 7mo. of hell & therapy. Later she told me she had been raped... this was 1 of many reactions to this horrendous experience. 3 yrs. later she is still dealing with depression & oppositional defiant disorder.
—Guest Missy

Not the schools problem

So many have answered that there needs to be a school repsonse. This is not a school problem. It would be great for schools to include information on the possible consequences of sexting in a class somewhere. However, the schools don't provide the phones - parents do. Parents have to teach morals, we as parents are responsible for teaching our children how we expect them to behave and how we expect them to treat others. I don't agree that the punishments are too harsh. Where do we draw the line? At 15 they can forward nude photos of someone and its "ok", but at 18 doing the same thing is distribution of pornography. Perhaps there needs to be a gradiation of punishments, but it is a legal issue - not a school suspension issue. We can't make light of these behaviors when they are teens, no one will excuse these actions when they are adults.
—Guest Karla

Don't Mess Up Their Future

If a teen is sending nude pictures to a boyfriend/girlfriend then they were either peer pressured into it or did it out of love. There is so much peer pressure now a days when it comes to teens. Having a felony on their record is to much. Getting prison time is way overboard. I think that a child should have a fine or have community service for what they did. If the law calls them minors then they don't need to be charged with adult charges! Teens may not realize the consequence until it's to late. I think they should have more sex education at school to help the teens realize that it isn't right for them to do it. Girls are at higher risk of doing it. Guys will just receive them and maybe even forward them. Serious consequences are too strict. They need to hurry up and change that.
—Guest U

Monitoring

We disable the pictures to send feature on our teens phone. We feel the maturity level isn't there for our kid's peers, so instead of involving them in someone's mistake, we felt it necessary to do this. Phone companies do understand how kids can't monitor themselves, so they provide the tools for parents to do it. If parents allow this feature to stay active, and pictures are sent, then they too should be held accountable. Either parenting classes or involvement of social services for not being responsible parents and letting a child monitor herself. Seriously people, are you going to blame children for doing immature things because you refuse to do your job? I'm not surprise others are vilifing the victims here. And yes, I'm talking about the children.(Anyone under 18 is still considered a child according to the law.)
—Guest GuestWhat

laws too strict..

I am dealing with a situation where our step daughter was "in love" so she was naive and sent nude pics to her boyfriend. They broke up now he says she will go to jail for this and is harassing her. I don`t think the rest of her life should be ruined for one mistake! We all made mistakes and she is no different then any other teen!
—Guest ava

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