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Can Teens Who Sext Face Child Pornography Charges?

Sexting — taking a nude or provocative picture of yourself and texting it to someone else — has become rampant among teens. All too often, the explicit photo ends up in the hands (or on the screen) of someone who disseminates it widely. Many states are introducing criminal penalties for those who distribute sexts.

Is sexting really pornography?

The dilemma that lawmakers face is whether to treat teen sexts as child pornography. The consequence would be extremely harsh penalties, including: 

  • For creating child pornography, up to 30 years in jail
  • For possessing or distributing child pornography, up to 10 years in jail
  • Mandatory registration as a sex offender
  • Ineligibility for record expungement 

New law in Arkansas

To address the sexting epidemic without condemning immature teens to life as a sex offender, Arkansas legislators enacted a new sexting law in August 2013. Under the new law, juveniles who send or receive sexually explicit photographs of themselves or others can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, for which the criminal penalty is eight hours of community service.

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