In the past few years, smartphones have proliferated incredibly across America. It seems that today, more people are using high-tech camera phones than ever before, and at younger and older ages. Indeed, many children now have access to powerful new smartphones. This opens them up to a new world of social networking, information gathering and free communication. Unfortunately, however, smartphones also open the users up to new realms of legal liability, often in ways the user may not suspect.
“Sexting,” in particular, is an issue that has become prevalent on the legal landscape. Sexting is the process of sending sexually explicit messages or images via text message, generally to a boyfriend or girlfriend. These images are often pictures that the user takes of him or herself.
The legal problems come out when sexting is practiced by underage couples. When a minor takes a nude picture of him or herself, then sends it to another person, the action could constitute a serious sex crime: the possession or transmission of child pornography. This is true even if the recipient is also a minor.
This is the legal situation faced by two children in another state, where authorities have charged them for their role in a sexting scandal. The children, aged 13 and 14, were apparently boyfriend and girlfriend. The girlfriend sent a sexually explicit self-portrait to her boyfriend, who apparently showed it to others. The activity was noticed by school officials, who then notified local law enforcement.
The children are now facing very serious charges for an action that they likely did not even know was illegal. For this reason, school officials sent a message to parents asking them to educate their children about the legal consequences of sexting, in hopes that no other children find themselves in such a serious legal situation.
WCTV, “2 Georgia Middle School Students Charged In Sexting” No Author Given, Nov. 23, 2013