Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Sexting Laws Abound

The uproar over sexting continues -- this time policy makers try to take a stab at curbing the practice of minors sending sexually explicit photos of each other.

1. In Kelso, WA the school board approved a policy that allows for school administrators to confiscate and search a student's phone if there is "reasonable cause" to suspect that the sexting took place at school. Students can face suspension or expulsion if found guilty. I fear that this sort of policy is a slippery slope that can be used to target certain teens; the ACLU is already fighting this as an invasion of privacy -- could these school administrators be charged with the viewing of child pornography (or at the very least, accused of being voyeuristic?) if they keep confiscating phones and having a peek?

2. According to the Huffington Post the New York Department of Education is also trying to ban sexting and students could get in trouble for sending photos from home as well as school.

3. In Texas there is a bill under consideration that would lessen the penalty for youth found guilty of sexting to being found guilty of a Class C misdemeanor for first offenders (currently they might be charged with distribution of child pornography and possibly have to register as a sex offender). While that sounds reasonable, the bill also stipulates that youth and their parents would both have to take educational classes about the "harmful consequences" of sexting. Two things about this seem odd: (1) from a research standpoint, we don't really know what the harmful consequences of sexting are. So, not sure where they are going to get course content from. (2) And what are the parents going to learn? Is the implication here that parents somehow were supportive of the sexting and also need to be told it isn't a great idea? I doubt it. But someone over at The Stir already beat me to making fun of this sort of logic.

This is only the beginning, folks. Look for many new sexting laws and policies being proposed and adopted at the school, state, and possibly even federal level.

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