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Adults risk embarrassment if their sext message is misdirected.
But when a teenager (meaning a minor between 13 and 17) creates, sends, or receives a sext message in Illinois, he or she may have committed the criminal offense of child pornog raphy.
Finding and deleting an unsolicited sext message an hour after its receipt better demonstrates involuntary possession than does carrying a sext message on the phone for two months or more.
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Teen sexting confronts attorneys and courts with new and complicated legal issues.
Moreover, a sexting teen's social and legal problems often converge at the schoolhouse door.
Sexting is a recent phenomenon, fueled by widespread availability of affordable mobile phones with picture-taking and sending capabilities.
Although just over two-thirds of those teens meant those images for their boyfriend or girlfriend, 25 percent of teen girls and 33 percent of teen boys admit they have had sext messages meant for someone else shared with them.
School districts should work with local law enforcement in establishing district policies and procedures for investigating allegations of sexting.
They should discuss whether and how, if at all, law enforcement will be involved in sexting issues.
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.
Thus, one unwise youthful indiscretion results in five felonies and subjects the teenage couple to branding as "sex offenders." A legislative response.
Some states have attempted to decriminalize sexting among teens, or at least reduce the offense from felony to misdemeanor.
Legislators should consider drafting a narrow exception to sex offenses to prevent "innocent" teens from being charged with serious violations while maintaining liability for those who are guilty of actual child pornography - regardless of age.