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Sexting Legislation in the United States and Abroad: A Call for Uniformity

O'Connor, Kimberly; Drouin, Michelle; Yergens, Nicholas; Newsham, Genni

Editor(s)
Jaishankar, K

In this study, we analyzed the sexting laws of 50 states in the United States (U.S.) and the District of Columbia, as well as five English-speaking international countries (Australia, Canada, England, New Zealand, and South Africa). We also examined laws related to aggravated circumstances, such as in cases of revenge porn. Our analyses revealed considerable variation, both in U.S. and international law, with some jurisdictions relying on archaic child pornography statutes to prosecute teenage sexting cases and others, developing new, extensive legislation that addresses various types of online interactions (e.g., sexting, revenge porn, and cyber bullying). Additionally, in jurisdictions where specific teenage sexting legislation has not been adopted, there is often a disconnect between these child pornography statutes, laws related to age of sexual consent, and typical teenage sexting behavior. This incongruity creates an abstruse landscape for teenagers to determine the legality of their sexting behaviors. Using the psychological research on the topic of sexting as a basis for our discussion, we highlight the state-level and national legislation that attempts to address these issues comprehensively. Moreover, we make legislative recommendations and advocate for more uniformity across jurisdictions and lesser penalties in teenage sexting cases.

This article forms a part of Special Issue on Sexting, International Journal of Cyber Criminology, Vol 11 issue 2, July - December 2017. Guest Editors: Fawn Ngo, K. Jaishankar, Jose R. Agustina.
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