March 10, 2011

Sexting: Flirting with Trouble

Filed under: Uncategorized — publicandprivatespace @ 10:23 pm

Cara Meder

Within the past decade or so the use of cellphones has become increasingly popular, especially among teenagers.  The popularity of this technology has become so great that it seems as though the young adults that are using them have become dependent on them for many things.  Not only are these cellphones being used to place phone calls, but they are also used to send text messages, picture messages, and video messages.

`With the ability to send a picture to someone at the push of a button it is no wonder how “sexting” has become so popular.  The term “sexting” is used to describe the act of a person sending and/or receiving sexually explicit photographs or text messages via a cellphone and has become a huge topic of discussion in recent years.  Sexting is a trend that has become popular among teenagers especially and the biggest issue with this is that it is not uncommon that this act includes minors.  The Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996 prohibited sexually explicit photographs of a minor engaging in sexual behaviors.  This act is what makes the issue of sexting such a big deal.

When considering the subject of sexting one must wonder where the First Amendment’s freedom of expression comes into play.  Although many would not approve of the sending of explicit photographs or messages, one could argue that it is a way of expressing oneself, and if no one got hurt then some believe that it should not be a crime at all.   Many states are working towards adapting their laws to deal with this new teenage phenomenon because many believe that putting these teenagers on the same level as sex offenders and child pornographers just does not seem right.  Although many states have changed the law to lower the charges they would face if caught, they still make it so they can face up to four months jail time if caught even though the charge is now a misdemeanor.

When these explicit text messages stay between the two intended recipients than the issue is not very prominent.  An issue arises when a minor is involved or when the message spreads beyond the two people.  A story of a young girl named Jessica Logan is one that tends to come up when the issue of sexting comes into play.  Because of this extreme case extreme measures were taken in order to stop it from happening again.  Situations like Jessica’s when a very private thing like sending flirty pictures from girlfriend to boyfriend, become private due to the fact that the boyfriend forwarded the photographs to other people can become very dangerous.  Some things are meant to stay private and when they are made public the results can be disastrous.

Something that has become a problem because of sexting is something the media calls “sextortion” arises which occurs when an individual contacts a person who has sent a sexually suggestive image of him or herself and threatens to expose the image to others unless terms are met such as more pictures or other sexual favors.  It is obvious how this can become a problem since blackmailing is a crime in itself, but if something such as this does not come from the sending of these “sexts” then the problem is not as great.

The simple fact of the matter is, sexting is out there and just because it is now considered illegal that does not mean that teenagers are going to stop doing it.  Over twenty percent of teenagers admit to sending or receiving explicit text messages, and it’s not like we are going to be able to lock them all up.



  1. I completely agree that the major problem with sexting is the involvement of minors. A cell phone is a person’s private property, and it shouldn’t matter what he or she sends or receives on that phone; unless it is illegal. I do believe that it is a near impossible law to enforce now. With how fast text messages, picture messages, and video messages can spread it would be near impossible for law enforcements to track down any good information on the source of the text, picture, or video. Until there is a way to filter or monitor what travels between cell phones, there will be no stopping or filter sexting completely.
    -Scott Smith

    Comment by publicandprivatespace — March 11, 2011 @ 2:34 am | Reply

  2. -Markus Lackey
    I see no major problem in sexting with underage teenagers. The only problem is when it is used for sextortion or when it contain child pornography that is not their own. When sharing these messages with a boyfriend or a girlfriend it should be like making a pact with that person that no information should be passed on to anyone else. Sexting with teenagers is not going to stop and if a person pictures should be release to the public eye, you should be able to sue in civil court.

    Comment by publicandprivatespace — March 11, 2011 @ 9:28 am | Reply

  3. I feel there is a problem with sexting today in minors because these teenagers do not know what major issues could arise from their acts. They see it as a harmless and fun act between them and someone they see as significant to them, but what they do not know is how much trouble can be stirred up from just sending a picture. Everything sent is private but if the person you send it to gets mad at you the picture could be sent to everyone with the click of a button. Its hard to be able to force a law for this because texts are sent so quickly but the idea of trying to keep this issue under control is a good one.
    By:Kirsten Kipp

    Comment by publicandprivatespace — March 11, 2011 @ 11:03 am | Reply

  4. I believe sexting should not acquire a punishment for the receiver but the sender. In this arena the receiver is completely innocent and was not the one promoting child pornography but instead just a bystander to the act, while the sender is the one partaking in these actions. The recipient only becomes a guilty party when they take action and in turn send this picture to other individuals, but still in this instance much of the responsibility falls upon the shoulders of the sender of this sexually explicit message. Such an occurrence arose in my high school. A girl had sent a boy a nude picture of herself, after their relationship when sour he decided to send it to all of her friends and even her mom. Ultimately, the boy become a registered sex offender while the girl suffered no repercussions.

    Sexting is a very serious matter and becomes even more serious when it can have such harsh consequences. Sexting can not only be embarrassing and potentially harmful to the individual who sent the picture, but can also result in the formation of criminal records and serious offenses. In the instance that occurred in my high school the predicament even escalated to the courts system. While it is the person’s own decision to send this message and they will have to suffer the consequences of their own actions, I believe sexting is something that should be avoided altogether in any type of relationship.

    -Jenna Coffey

    Comment by publicandprivatespace — March 11, 2011 @ 11:31 am | Reply

  5. First let me make known where I stand on this topic: Sexting is a major issue and there are absolutely ZERO benefits in participating in sexting. Not only does it promote sexual interactions amongst minors, things like sextortion and child pornography are issues as well as mentioned above. Sexting between teenagers is in fact, not hard to enforce or track down. Just like with any crime, the proper authorities must be alerted first before an investigation can begin. This is why sexting is hard to track down because most incidents go unreported. However, once the authorities are notified, finding who sent the messages, who they sent them to etc. is extremely easy to find. And even if the law were “near impossible” to enforce, doesn’t mean that it should not be a law at all.
    For the second comment, when has a sext not “contained child pornography that is not their own”? If someone has sexts, it’s not of themselves. I’m sure that when the picture messages are sent that some sort of pact is formed between the two people involved, but what does that mean to a fifteen year-old? Promises come and go (especially in high school) and just because your boyfriend of 4 weeks says he loves you now, doesn’t mean he will when you break up six months from now. This is why the law needs to stay, so that people who abuse their “pact” by using the photos can face serious charges. I do find it a little ridiculous for a sixteen year-old be labeled a sex offender fro the rest of his life because of this, but I still think that this law should remain strict with a zero-tolerance policy after a first offense. Without this, who’s to say that sexting couldn’t escalate to a more disastrous level.

    Comment by publicandprivatespace — March 11, 2011 @ 11:46 am | Reply

  6. Sexting is a minor issue in my opinion, or at least it is by now. The fact of the matter is that the people who send the sexts clearly know the possible reprucussions of their actions. They know that somebody could get ahold of the pictures that they were not planning to. They know that it could be used against them later on down the road. The fact that they still do it shows how they feel about it. They simply do not care. I think that if a sext is shared between two people of a similar age group, there should be no punishment. I do think it would be wrong however for a much older person to send sexts to a younger person. I would be willing to bet that more than 80% of sexts sent however are by teens to teens.
    Daniel Latz

    Comment by publicandprivatespace — March 11, 2011 @ 1:38 pm | Reply

  7. I think that there are both minor and major aspects of sexting in our generation. I think that if an individual wants to send a picture of themselves to their partner it should be fine. I don’t think that there is anything wrong with that as long a the picture stays within the couple. The sender knows what can happen in response to their actions, so it is their responsibility. I do think that sexting to maliciously hurt somebody is wrong. There are many cases in which people send out sexts to hurt those in the message. I think that this is a breach on privacy, and I think that the person in the sext should be the only one allowed to send it.

    I think that punishment of sexting is way too harsh. I don’t think people should have to go to jail for sending or receiving a sext. I understand that sexting can be considered child pornography, but I feel that it is not something that should be able to potentially ruin the rest of your life. I also think that it is unfair that the people receiving the texts are also getting punished. I believe that the sender should only be the one getting into trouble.

    -Chamilka Gunasekera

    Comment by publicandprivatespace — March 11, 2011 @ 2:38 pm | Reply

  8. I think that sexting is a problem among teenagers today, but I do not think that is it something they should go to jail over. Teenagers are sending pictures of themselves fully knowing how texting works. They have forwarded a message before and they know how easy it is to pass information on. They are the ones making a judgment call on how trustworthy the person, they are sending the picture or text to, is. If the receiver keeps the message to themselves then the sender was lucky because in most cases the pictures get sent around school. I think the shame and embarrassment of having a picture of yourself being sent around school is punishment enough for the sender. That picture will be around forever now and can get sent to anyone, including their parents. I feel like sending the person to jail on top of all the other consequences would just be cruel and unnecessary.
    -Liz Boeckman

    Comment by publicandprivatespace — March 11, 2011 @ 2:50 pm | Reply

  9. Sexting is a major problem in society today. Sexting not only effects the person who takes the picture but it effects the world around that person. Someone can go from just an ordinary teenager to a sex object in a matter of seconds. The intent of most people with sexting is to show off thier body to another person normally, the person that they are in a relationship with. When it comes to sexting and the law, I think this is one of those things where the law hasn’t caught up with technology. The person that sends the picture to another person believes that the picture will be kept private and when it get sent across the school suffers enough punishment and humiliation from their peers. The people sending the texts don’t have the intention of creating “kiddie porn” as the cops call it. There need to be seperate laws for people that get caught sexting and legit pediphiles.
    -Brooke Teaford-

    Comment by publicandprivatespace — March 11, 2011 @ 4:25 pm | Reply

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