In today’s American society, almost everyone, even children as young as six, owns a cell phone with a camera. Although convenient, camera phones also open the door to massive problems concerning child pornography that stem from sexting, or sending nude or lascivious photos. According to a 2010 Federal Bureau of Investigation survey1 of 4,400 middle and high school students, “approximately eight percent of students reported that they had sent a sext of themselves to others while thirteen percent said they had received a sext.” The main problem with sexting, aside from being child pornography if it is a picture of minor, is the ease of dissemination of the sext to other contacts or even the Internet. The United States alone has seen several students commit suicide after a sext intended for one person’s eyes goes viral or is sent to the entire high school. Such was the case of Ohio high school student, Jesse Logan, who sent nude photos to her boyfriend who then sent them to other students who harassed her until she committed suicide.2
Currently, there are laws in place against minors sexting and sexting to minors and they fall under the child pornography category. While the laws are intended to protect minors from sexual predators, what most minors do not understand is that they are subject to them as well. This means that, if fifteen-year-old Timmy decides to sext his fifteen-year-old girlfriend, Sarah, a naked picture of himself, both Timmy and Sarah could be tried in court with charges of disseminating child pornography and possessing child pornography. These serious charges can result in having to register as a sex offender for several years, although the message may have been sent and received consensually by both parties. This was the case for an eighteen-year-old Iowa boy who sent a nude picture of himself to a fourteen-year-old girl after she asked him repeatedly to do so. The jury in the Iowa Supreme Court convicted him of knowingly disseminating obscene material to a minor and required him to register as a sex offender.3
In the United States, seventeen states have enacted special sexting laws that outline what parties are culpable and the punishments for sending and receiving sexts to and from minors. Some states, such as New York, make an effort to keep minors from having to enroll as sex offenders over a sext. New York law states,
“The two persons involved in sending and receiving the message must both be under twenty and must be within five years of age from each other. They will have to participate in an education reform program that involves a maximum of eight hours of instruction that provides information regarding the legal consequences and non-legal consequences of sexting, and the problems associated with technology and bullying.”4
Currently, Indiana does not have a law specifically devoted to dealing with the sexting of minors.5 This jurisdiction falls under Indiana Code 35-42-4-4 that says that those who produce and...