‘Sexting’. It may seem harmless enough, but when you think about children, and the popularity and prevalence of the internet and mobile devices these days, it becomes much more of a thorny subject. This post looks at where sexting lies under criminal law.
What is sexting?
Sexting is when the internet or mobile devices are used to transmit nude or racy photos, usually of the person sending the message.
Is it a crime?
If the people involved are under 18, or the purpose of the sexting is to harass, then it can be.
Is sexting child pornography?
If the subject of the photo is under 18, sexting can be regarded as child pornography, and if the recipient is a child, it can be regarded as an ‘indecent act’.
What is child pornography?
The photo can be considered child pornography if it depicts a sexy pose or act, or shows a child in the presence of an adult performing a sexual pose or act.
Of course, when private parts are depicted this can, of course, be child pornography. However, a nude baby in a bath tub or on the beach is not child pornography unless it is offensive to the average person.
Child pornography is illegal for the person taking the photo and the one receiving it – even if you’re the recipient of a shared image. Even if you know the person depicted is 18, it can still be considered child pornography if they look under 18.
What if you’re under 18?
If you’re under 18, it is not illegal to take a photo of yourself, unless that ‘sexy’ photo shows you with someone more than two years younger or older than you, or depicts a crime such as underage sex or assault.
What are the penalties?
The penalties for child pornography are serious, with jail terms of up to 15 years and being mandatorily placed on the sex offender register.
However, because child porn penalties are not always appropriate for sexting, especially for young people, police and prosecutors can pursue less serious charges, such as warnings and school interventions. It’s important to warn your kids about the potential repercussions before they press send on an image!
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