Sexting and Child Pornography

As reported in the March 2, 2010, Providence Journal by staff writer, Talia Buford, legislation proposed by the Department of Attorney General would decrease the penalty for minors who are caught sexting so they would not be prosecuted under the child pornography statute. "The proposed legislation would create a lesser offense, and allow for counseling and intervention rather than a lifetime sex-offender label."

Under the proposed legislation, the cases would be referred to the intake unit of the Family Court and "minors who "knowingly and voluntarily" send sexually explicit videos or photographs of themselves to another person would find their case considered a status offense, which is less than a crime." The Department of Attorney General has stated that "the only other option has been to prosecute juveniles possessing, distributing or manufacturing child pornography - a felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison and $5,000.00 fine, and which requires the person to register as a sex offender."

Whether the act of young people sexting to each other should be a criminal offense is a subject open to debate and it is likely that the proposed legislation will receive much scrutiny.

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