The IT Law Wiki


Sexting is a term coined by the media that generally refers to youth writing sexually explicit messages, taking sexually explicit photos of themselves or others in their peer group, and transmitting those photos and/or messages to their peers.[1]


According to one study, 4% of cellphone owners aged 12 to 17 have sent sexually suggestive images of themselves by phone, while 15% have received “sexts” containing images of someone they know.[2]

Sexting is not the same as a child sending a sexually explicit photo to an adult, however, the ramifications can be extremely serious because of how child pornography laws are written. In general, regardless of the age of the person who takes the photograph and/or sends it, that photograph is considered child pornography. This has led to situations in which underage girls have been charged with distributing child pornography and others in which teenagers have been required to register as sex offenders.

Although no federal charges have been brought in these types of cases yet, it is conceivable that they could. Congress may wish to consider whether children should be prosecuted under statutes intended to prosecute child predators and child pornographers and whether, in certain cases, such prosecutions might be warranted.


  1. National Conference of State Legislatures, "2009 Legislation Related to 'Sexting'" (full-text).
  2. See Press Release, Pew Internet & American Life Project, Teens and Sexting (Dec. 15, 2009) (full-text)

See also[]

External resources[]