What Adults Don’t Understand About Teen Sexting

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The local public radio station in New York City, WNYC, ran this interesting story about the teen sexting scandal in Colorado: Schools, Cops Take Notice as Teen Sexting Becomes New Norm:

There are many thought-provoking ideas presented in the story.  Familiar to lawyers will be the notion that child pornography laws were developed in an era prior to the advent of smart phones, and thus, the laws do not always apply easily to situations involving teens who share nude photos of each other.  The radio story mentions the seemingly illogical conclusion that a teen who takes and sends a nude picture to a fellow teen (assuming no coercion or bullying) is both simultaneously the perpetrator and the victim under child pornography laws.  The story also suggests — although more subtly — the possibility that adults simply don’t understand the role that sexting (including the sharing of nude photos) plays in the lives of teenagers.  That is, some teenagers use this form of communication to build and express intimacy, and that teens don’t have the same sense of shame (or protectiveness) about their bodies as adults have about teen bodies.

This isn’t a topic I’ve thought much about, and I definitely need to reflect more.  At this point, I’m just passing on the story as one that I thought worthy of a wide audience.

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