As We See It

Stop punishing horny teens for sexting

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Watch out, teens! Sexting can have some serious consequences…
Illustration: Chris Morris

It’s a plotline straight out of Law & Order: SVU. Five juveniles in Pahrump are arrested on suspicion of distribution of child pornography and promotion of a sexual performance of a minor after they’re caught in a school bus gawking over cell-phone photos of three nude girls (ages 12 and 13). Instances like this aren’t so rare. They’ve popped up across the country ever since camera phones became ubiquitous and sending nudie pics emerged as contemporary foreplay. It serves as a harsh reminder that our sex laws can be archaic in the face of technology and woefully ignorant of the behavior of teens and preteens. Was what these kids did idiotic? Absolutely. Are they criminals? Hardly. Several states have enacted “sexting legislation” to safeguard minors from falling into a system meant for real criminals. In South Carolina, arrested minors face a misdemeanor, a fine and an educational program, after which their record is expunged. But Nevada has no such law. Our horny youth run the risk of becoming registered sex offenders—a classification that can ruin your life. What will happen in Nye County’s recent case remains to be seen, but let’s hope it’s something Benson and Stabler would approve of.

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