Moreover, a sexting teen's social and legal problems often converge at the schoolhouse door.
For attorneys who counsel educational institutions, it is only a matter of time before they must grapple with sexting-related issues.
These issues pose difficult challenges for school administrators and staff, especially where improper investigation can subject school personnel to prosecution for the same criminal offenses that teens risk by sexting.
By being aware of the relevant law and having policies in place to deal with sexting, prosecutors and law enforcement, school districts, parents, and teenagers themselves can curb sexting behavior while avoiding liability.
As well as the legal consequences, ‘sexting’ can cause both emotional and reputational damage.
Think before you take a picture - would you be happy for your family or employer to see it?
For purposes of this article, "sexting" is the practice of sending nude or semi-nude pictures by cell phone or other electronic media; it is a sexual text ('sext') message.
Thus, a 17-year-old who snaps his or her own revealing picture has technically created child pornography, a Class 1 felony with a mandatory fine of between ,000 and 0,000 and at least four years in prison.
Beyond registering and reporting as sex offenders, students convicted of child pornography may also be bound by other restrictions that can significantly complicate their lives. Bland, , Arizona Republic (Aug 27, 2009) (cited in note 6) ("Lawmakers in Vermont, Utah and Ohio are making sexting a misdemeanor instead of a felony when the cases involve teenagers, and as long as the sender voluntarily transmitted the image."). Act of May 9, 2009, 2009 Vt Laws 58§ 4, to be codified at 13 VSA§ 2802b, online at Another slightly more punitive sexting bill, HB 5164, was still alive at presstime. Telephone conversation with Dave Haslett, Chief of the Illinois Attorney General’s High Tech Crimes Bureau (Sep 28, 2009). See Bassett, , The Telegraph (Jun 27, 2009) (cited in note 5) (Explaining that school districts are reviewing and amending policy to account for recent sexting behavior). Telephone conversation with Daniel Spillman, attorney for the Illinois Attorney General High Tech Crimes Bureau (May 13, 2009).
For example, child sex offenders 17 and older cannot be present on school grounds or loiter or reside within 500 feet of the school building. See Kara Rowland, , WKYC-TV (Apr 13, 2009), online at /print.aspx?
Another common example is when someone posts images they’ve received from their boyfriend/girlfriend after the relationship has ended for revenge or for a ‘laugh’.
They can be posted online or even sent to friends or to the person’s employer.