Sexting Laws

Sexting Laws


The first ever publication of the terminology sexting occurred in 2005, after the findings of the Pew Research Center on the same was published by the Australian Telegraph magazine (Roberts, 2005). The study classified sexting into three categories: exchanging images through smartphones solely between two romantically involved partners; exchange of images between partners with other people outside of the relationship and; image exchanges between individuals not yet in a romantic association, in which at least one individual hopes enter into one (Lenhart, 2009).

Sexting essentially refers to the sending of sexually overt messages via mobile phones (Wright, 2014). The practice has common practices among teenagers or else young people due to the convenient platform afforded by smartphones. While most of the people involved in sexting are largely below the age of 18, matters surrounding the generation as well as distribution of child pornography avails serious social concerns (Saleh, Grudzinskas, & Judge, 2014). This submission will therefore argue that sexting is not just a component of courting process by the digital generation and therefore legislation should not merely mirror societal concerns in regards to young people but rather the entire composition of the society.

Sexting Laws

There is a common misconception that sexting is practice prevalent among adolescents or young people for romantic purpose (Hiestand & Weins, 2014). However the truth is that the practice is common among adults. Due to these misconceptions, many of the existing laws regarding sexting are largely developed to focus on teenagers or protecting children from vices such as child pornography as opposed to examining the role of adults in promoting the practice in a manner that demeans constructive societal expectations.

In November of 2015 high school learners in Colorado allegedly sent nude pictures of themselves to eac1h prompting the felony investigations by the police as well as the loss of a football match as many players were implicated in the alleged scandal (Cevallos, 2009). This situation confirms that indeed that one crucial maxim exists in human existence concerning adolescent conduct: adults do the dandiest of things. In other words they are they are not considered as part of the sexting craze confirming why sexting laws do not focus majorly of grow ups yet they are some of the worst perpetrators of crimes through sexting platform afforded by mobile technology (Cevallos, 2009).

It obvious to everyone that children will constantly will themselves in an irresponsible as well as ill-advised manner but it is important to appreciate that their behavior is consistent with age (Klein, 2012). Similarly, their irresponsible and unpredictable conduct can be predicted and as such, appropriate measures established to address the same.  The United States Supreme Court has in fact acknowledged the widely acceptable fact that teenagers are impulsive, reckless and highly susceptible to the effects of unconstructive influences compared to adults (Marcum & Higgins, 2014). This does not nonetheless mean that cannot adults are not as guilty in regards to sexting as teenagers. This submission argues that children are influenced by the society and particularly actions by adults and peers.

While a majority of the existing sexting laws focus on the actions of children, the implications are not appropriately understood by the adults and children alike. While adults or else parents  that possession of sexually overt images by children through their smartphones is a serious criminal offense, the society fails to appreciate that this conduct cannot be as prevalent as it is if adults did not partake in the practice (Oluwole & Green, 2013). Towards this end, this exercise argues that adults as parents as well as guardians in the society have a civil responsibility or are liable from a civil perspective for actions of children in regards to sexting. It is common knowledge that teenagers most children do not own phones as they are paid for by their respective parents (Pollock, 2012).

In addition, the online accounts used children are registered in parents’ or other adults’ names as the children are not of legal age where they cannot be held to account fully for their actions. This then means that the parent or technically owns the communication device and essentially allow their use for sexting purposes. In this regard, sexting laws should be developed based on an understanding that parents or adults are indeed facilitators of the practice and therefore they cannot claim ignorance to justify their lack of control over the usage of mobile phones by children (Victoria Legal Aid, 2014).

The digital generation is widely considered a lost generation but the truth that many have conveniently refused to accept is that a lost generation is the direct product of a lost generation. For instance, the mobile applications used in the dissemination of sexually explicit content by children are not designed by children. They were created principally to allow adults to share romantic messages but they have been turned into a platform to cultivation as well as promoting socially deviant content. The developers of these social networking platforms did not and have not taken appropriate measures to incorporate safeguards into the applications on the one hand while legislative and enforcement bodies have not developed requisite laws to address the same (Crofts, Lee, Alyce, & Milivojevic, 2015).  Any sexting law should therefore consider how applications and applications developers have made it easier for children to create access and disseminate explicit content. This is important as sexting is not just a component of courting process by the digital generation and therefore legislation should not merely mirror societal concerns in regards to young people but rather the entire composition of the society.

Parents are a critical factor in the development of sexting laws and should be the focus on legislation as they share the same liabilities with children in regards to disseminating explicit sexual content via smartphones (Shariff, 2014). For instance, if a teenager breaks up with a girlfriend/boyfriend and he or she ends up distributing sexually overt pictures of the other to friends or strangers in a manner that results in harm, the sexting laws should explicit state that the parent is monetarily or otherwise liable for the teenager’s actions as the device the use of the device in this regard does not satisfy the intended purpose during purchase (Rathus, 2013).

Sexting laws should go beyond their tradition approach of focusing on sexting as a distinct crime from other crimes like sexual predation and peodephilia and cyberbullying as the practice does not merely concern itself with courtship among the digital generation (Hasinoff, 2015). Sexual predations in addition to peodephilia are eminent dangers posed by sexting.  This true considering the fact that once pictures are shared via smartphones, the become readily available to everyone with access to the Internet including pedophiles and sexual predators who are continuously engaged in endless troll to locate children images as well as pictures (Hiestand & Weins, 2014).

This means that a majority of sexting images are obviously disseminated to more than one individual and site and eventually end up into collections y peodephilia and sexual predators. Legislation governing the use of sexting should incorporate express provisions that seek to address the ability of the platform to advance sexual crimes against children as opposed to only focusing on the role of children in disseminating sexually overt images.

In addition, sexting is a major contributory factor in the rise of cyberbullying where teenagers use images to ridicule as well as abuse peers, particularly in instance where the individual who took a picture or created an image intended for it to remain private between the recipient and the sender (Shariff, 2014). Cyberbullying resulting from sexting confirms that the former does not only apply to courtship during formative years as cyberbullying cannot in any way be regarded as  courting or relationship building activity. Sexting laws in this regard should be more robust in terms of scope so as to address the implications of the practice in regards to promotion of cyberbullying which in a number of instances results in fatal consequences.


This argumentative essay has provided a counter argument to the assertion that sexting is just a component of courting process by the digital generation and therefore legislation should not merely mirror societal concerns in regards to young people. The submission argues that that sexting is not just a component of courting process among young people and as such, sexting laws should not merely mirror societal concerns in regards to young people but rather the entire composition of the society. As discussed in the substantive argument, sexting is a practice that finds wide application among all people in the society irrespective of age and facilitates the perpetuation of other crimes like sexual predation, peodephilia, and cyberbullying among others. Existing laws as well as new ones should therefore train their focus away from the tradition conception of sexting and address the vice in a manner predicated on the appreciation that it is indeed a multifaceted practice involving different societal demographics.


Cevallos, D. (2009). The truth about sexting laws. Retrieved March 20th, 2016, from CNN:

Crofts, T., Lee, M., A. M., & Milivojevic, S. (2015). Sexting and Young People. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

Hasinoff, A. A. (2015). Sexting Panic: Rethinking Criminalization, Privacy, and Consent. University of Illinois Press.

Hiestand, T. C., & Weins, W. J. (2014). Sexting and Youth: A Multidisciplinary Examination of Research, Theory, and Law. Carolina: Carolina Academic Press.

Klein, R. (2012). Frequently Asked Questions about Texting, Sexting, and Flaming. MA, Ohio: The Rosen Publishing Group.

Lenhart, A. (2009). Teens and Sexting – Pew Internet & American Life Project. Retrieved March 20th, 2016, from Pew Research Center:…/Reports/

Marcum, C. D., & Higgins, G. E. (2014). Social Networking as a Criminal Enterprise. London: CRC Press.

Oluwole, J., & Green, P. C. (2013). Sext Ed: Obscenity Versus Free Speech in Our Schools. ABC-CLIO.

Pollock, J. M. (2012). Criminal Law. New York, NY: Routledge.

Rathus, S. A. (2013). Childhood and Adolescence: Voyages in Development. New York, NY: Cengage Learning.

Roberts, Y. (2005, July 31st). The one and only. Sunday Telegraph Magazine, pp. 22-22.

Saleh, F. M., Grudzinskas, A., & Judge, A. (2014). Adolescent Sexual Behavior in the Digital Age: Considerations for Clinicians, Legal Professionals, and Educators. Oxford University Press.

Shariff, S. (2014). Sexting and Cyberbullying. London: Cambridge University Press.

Victoria Legal Aid. (2014). Sexting and child pornography. Retrieved March 20th, 2016, from Victoria Legal Aid:

Wright, R. (2014). Sex Offender Laws, Second Edition: Failed Policies, New Directions. New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company.

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