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Unpublished Paper
Hysteria Over Sexting: A Plea For a Common Sense Approach
ExpressO (2012)
  • John O. Hayward
Teenagers have enthusiastically embraced digital technology and its myriad assortment of electronic devices and gadgets. But unfortunately they often find themselves the target of numerous laws criminalizing their use. Sending sexy photos of themselves in various stages of undress to their favorite boyfriend or girlfriend earns them unwanted attention from school administrators as well as criminal complaints from the local district attorney accusing them of trafficking in child pornography! This article deals with “sexting,” the practice of “sending, receiving, or forwarding sexually explicit messages, photos, or images via cell phone, computer, or other digital device.” (The term is a combination of sex and texting.) It examines the social setting in which it occurs, its prevalence and frequency, the legal issues surrounding sexting, including the constitutional concerns of free speech, obscenity and child pornography laws, and prosecutions under these statutes. It reviews legislative responses and proposes a Model Statute to deal with this growing social phenomenon of the digital age. The article also comments on sexting in the context of the feminist debate over pornography and concludes that teen sexters are pubescent feminists. Lastly, it concludes with a plea not to criminalize teenage sexual desire and urges law enforcement to step back from the precipice of teen sexting prosecutions that are eerily reminiscent of 17th century witch hunts.
  • Sexting,
  • Constitutional Law,
  • Intellectual Property,
  • Cell Phone Use
Publication Date
February 4, 2012
Citation Information
John O. Hayward. "Hysteria Over Sexting: A Plea For a Common Sense Approach" ExpressO (2012)
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