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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Law would decriminalize sexting in VT

Legislation has passed Vermont's Senate and is pending in the House that would decriminalize but not legalize teen sexting. The bill would take child-porn charges off the table in cases where teens send or receive nude images of themselves or peers, Yahoo Tech News reports. The bill wouldn't legalize sexting, but "would carve out an exemption from prosecution for child pornography for 13-to-18-year-olds on either the sending or receiving end of sexting messages, so long as the sender voluntarily transmits an image of himself or herself." Yahoo adds that Vermont prosecutors could "still use laws against lewd and lascivious conduct and against disseminating indecent materials to a minor." The Vermont legislation makes sense for most sexting incidents - those involving impulsive, self-destructive, or "romantic" consensual behavior among peers - but some legal scholars feel serious charges may need to remain an option in cases where malicious or criminal intent's involved. The Yahoo article details criminal charges teens face for sexting in a number of states.

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1 Comments:

Blogger Denis Drew said...

Possible First Amendment protection for teen “sexters?”



The justification for not protecting child pornography under the First Amendment is that it is necessary to take prurient advantage of a child to make the picture. Hand drawn or computer generated child porn is not illegal (unless they use a live child for an artist’s subject I suppose) – one thinks movie scenes in “The Glitter Dome.”



A sexting teen who transmits her own is not being taken advantage of by an adult or anyone else. If she sends nude pictures to an 80 year old her part in the transaction might very well be protected under the First Amendment – once the first principles of the scenario are considered. Ditto for her side of sexting to a friend.



There is an outside chance a child possessing such the “sext” should be considered to be taking prurient advantage of a minor under the First Amendment (depending on which generation of judges gets hold of it maybe) – but does it make sense to make a teen boyfriend -- who may even have made legal sexual contact with the girl -- the equivalent of an adult who possesses child pornography?



The free speech crossover seems to be when boys distribute nude pictures of girls among themselves without the girls permission – certainly not free speech. But to begin with no child was hurt making the image. The kind of personal damage to a child making pornographic images may be much more devastating than that of having the image passed around (again, once thinks of “The Glitter Dome”) – at least most of the time.



Wouldn’t we feel more comfortable with law that punishes such a gross invasion of privacy in a case for case damage way – not rounding up dozens of students and plastering them all with sex offender status and heavy jail time – but treating the offense as the privacy offense it really is?

6:11 PM  

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