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Sexting: harmless fun or a dangerous act?


In today’s fast paced, technologically-centered world, mobile phone use is nearly a habitual act. Cell phones are centers for communication, networking, news, business and entertainment, so many may wonder how a crime could involve such a useful device. Although the advantages of text messaging are apparent, sexting is a relatively new term that, while legal in some cases, can also present complex issues in the case of minors. The state of Virginia has laws regarding sexting to protect its citizens from potential harm, but some laws are currently under scrutiny and revision.

To flesh out the term sexting, the Virginia State Crime Commission describes the term as act of taking a sexually explicit picture and then transmitting it via a picture message from one cell phone to another. Sexting has become an increasingly debated topic over the last decade, and the VSCC points out that even if an individual has good intentions while sexting, they are technically in violation of child pornography laws. This regulation has sparked controversy across the country, as many teenagers are punished for simply sending a sexual photo to another teenager with complete consent from both parties. The law initially intended to protect children and teens from predatory adults, but has recently spun out of control. The Crime Commission is currently working to revise certain limitations regarding sexting crimes.

ConnectSafely, a nonprofit organization dedicated to informing users of connected technology about safety, privacy and security, also comments on the potential crimes that can stem from sexting. For instance, sexting as sexual harassment has been a hot-button topic over recent years, as it involves pressure and coercion from one party to receive nude or sexually explicit photos from another party. Another harmful type of sexting includes sextortion, which involves the crime of extortion involving sex-related digital photos. There are specific laws that describe in further detail the penalties attached to sexting, but, as the act is relatively new, the law is attempting to catch up to the digital world and apply punishment to crimes efficiently and fairly.

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