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Teenage Sexting Is Not Child Porn (Op-Ed)

TEENAGERS who sext are in a precarious legal position. Though in most states teenagers who are close in age can legally have consensual sex, if they create and share sexually explicit images of themselves, they are technically producing, distributing or possessing child pornography. The laws that cover this situation, passed decades ago, were meant to apply to adults who exploited children and require those convicted under them to register as sex offenders. Full Opinion Piece

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  1. ab

    Hmmm that’s interesting.

    Not sure if the author of the opinion piece grasps the concepts at hand.

    Here’s the underlying problem with treating teen sexting as something other than child pornography; if an image or video ends up becoming part of a case weeks, months, or years later the material regardless of how explicit should not be counted as child porn. If original consensual sharing occurred (which would be difficult to prove without records) then any unanticipated sharing in the future should despite likely not being authorized by all parties have the same non child pornography status. Otherwise it becomes conditional child pornography based on who received, possessed, or distributed it and even more people will get caught up in a tangled web of already convoluted laws.

    I don’t care if someone is into looking at images of a mound of Oreo cookies being consumed by a hairless chimpanzee riding a ventriloquist elephant or any other outlandish thing imaginable. Just because someone or even a minority or majority perceive something as sexual doesn’t mean anyone else ought to give credit to the perception. This includes anything labeled as child pornography.

    We can’t allow double standards on this issue or others to exist. If teen sexting is not child pornography then regardless of where the content might one day end up it should still not be treated as child porn. Another thing; if say the age of consent is sixteen or seventeen in a particular state maybe provisions should be added to laws in those states that allow consent to extend to media produced during a relationship or hook up.

    Finally rather than assuming that materials produced in other countries with different standards should be classified as if produced here maybe it would be best to take a different approach. Unfortunately a lot of nude art photography and videos created throughout Europe in the nineties and early 2000s is considered child pornography in the United States. The lack of or inclusion of nudity should not be an automatic check to see if something meets the minimum requirements for child pornography classification. I am sadly aware of far too many individuals who participated in the creation of artistic material, that was not only legal, but not created through a sexual lens, who according to the US government and possibly other governments in countries other than their own are victims of child pornography. Imagine being unable to speak up as an adult and say no the perception of events in this instance is not real. Its as bad or worse than someone who was hurt not being taken seriously. Actually both are still victims who have been reduced to a very negative concept; the victim. Not a person, but a category of individuals who are treated a certain way because one or more experiences. Their essence quantified by their worth as objects. What a twisted species we humans can be.

  2. Jason

    Underage sexting is definitely child porn. They’ve convicted people for cartoons and putting photo’s of the faces of children on pictures of naked adults. People have been convicted for naked kids on the beach, and for naked teens just standing there.

  3. MS

    Let’s call it what is is…based on how US courts and law enforcement obviously see it (based on the arrests and media hype over the past decade). If there is nudity that is “sexual” in nature and the person is a minor…it’s CP. You can not call it sexting rather than CP when a minor teen produces, possesses, and/or distributes it (slap on the wrist) and then call it child porn when somebody over 18 does any of the same (labeling them predators and locking them up for years or decades).

    I guarantee you law enforcement will document the hash values of all the sexting materials they stumble upon (pics and videos) even if the minors only get a slap on the wrist. The second they find an adult (18 or older) in possession of those files that they downloaded from the web (likely P2P), they will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. But the 16yo female that intentionally produced and distributed the file(s) maybe gets a stern talking to because she was just sexting? This is not acceptable and will only serve to perpetuate the media hype and ridiculous sentencing associated with any adult arrested for CP.

    • Timmmy

      Actually, not true. I recall a 15 y/o girl was on some video chat service doing things and she was arrested and charged with felony production of CP. This was, I think, within the past five years.

      • sadandmad

        The first time I learned about Janice, she was on the news taking about a 16yo girl who sent nudes of herself, and is now an RSO

      • MS

        Not suggesting it never happens, that underage females don’t get in trouble for it, but that it doesn’t happen enough.

        As it stands the general public is convinced that everyone arrested for CP is a predator, a pedophile, that doesn’t deserve to live. They assume that all CP is of very young children being sexually abused by adults. If there are any doubts about this…read the comments posted on articles about people arrested for CP.

        The way to educate the general public about the reality of pornography in our culture and legal system is to have police arrest and prosecute minors that produce and distribute what the law labels CP. Minors should not get special treatment. If an adult caught with what a minor produces gets crucified in the media, in court, and in jail…then there should be no special treatment for your minor son or daughter when they decide to produce and/or distribute CP if that same CP file is going to result in the arrest of adults and their life is over.

        Those that have posted their hate comments on articles covering a CP arrest should take a look at the pics and videos on their 12-17 year old teens smart phone. Their might find videos and pics of the their teen being “abused”….abused by themselves willingly. Probably the same parent that probably had sex with a minor when they were a minor or early adult.

        In my case police came pounding on my door because of a file I downloaded using peer-to-peer. 1/2 of the words in the file name suggested it came from a legal adult porn site but the hash value of the file had been marked as CP. The file had been renamed so that somebody searching for and bulk downloading what were supposed to be legal porn from the “teenburg” website would end up with it. The video was not a teenburg video…it was CP. I never even opened the file. Now I’m a Price Club member and labeled a predator for life.

        • Jason (I think there are two of us)

          Yup. My files had “Met Art” in the name and they were in fact Met Art files. The files I had were site rips from around 2004 and apparently they still had at least 6 underage models at the time. 6 models (about 200 photos) at least had the matching hash values.

          At no time in my case did the judge or prosecutor ever care to hear that Met Art is a US based company that claimed very clearly all models were 18+. It simply wasn’t relevant. The case was simple: matching hash values = CP, no need to go further.

        • MS

          I feel you…

          With a more than 1.5TB hoard of porn…I had a little or a lot of everything…including a bunch of Met-Art pics. On the day the police came knocking I had about 1,200 Met-Art RAR files in my P2P download que. Each rar file had anywhere between 200 to 500 photos. If the downloads had completed I would have had a few hundred thousand Met-Art photos on my P2P computer. I had absolutely no idea that some of the Met-Art stuff (nude models) was identified as underage. Learned it after it was too late.

          Anyone arrested for CP is guilty…convicted by the media, the public, the court, by law enforcement, etc) long before you have your day in court. If you have $100,000 to mount a defense…maybe you stand a chance? If not…forget it and take a plea deal. I knew it was over for me when my attorney read off several supposed statements I made to investigators. Total lies but it put the nails in my coffin. Took a polygraph to prove I never said those things…but it didn’t change the outcome.

    • ab

      Nudity is not required for a child pornography classification. Fully clothed minors under eighteen can still be found to be depicted in child pornography based on meeting one or more dost test factors:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dost_test

      Two of the most disturbing factors based solely upon the frame of mind required to consider them are:

      2. Whether the setting of the visual depiction is sexually suggestive, i.e., in a place or pose generally associated with sexual activity.

      6. Whether the visual depiction is intended or designed to elicit a sexual response in the viewer.

      Essentially using ones own standard of might be sexually suggestive is fair legal grounds to submit that a fully clothed minor is being depicted in child pornography. Say the minor is in a bedroom or positioned in some way that could be associated with the lead up to sexual activity.

      Number six is even worse because it forces anyone looking to determine if any other person could potentially find something sexual in the content. Unfortunately the human imagination allows for the sexualization of anything wether real or fictional. Just because something can be sexualized in the eyes of one or more people doesn’t mean everyone else ought to give any credibility to the sexualized perspective.

      Hash values are not utilized to determine if something is child pornography. Hash values have victim file associations. The hash values for known content of known victims is used as a record keeping measures. The overall process is as follows: is something child pornography or at least likely child pornography? If so it is sent for cross reference against a database of known victims using hash values applied to each known image of each known victim. Supposedly a hash value can’t be changed (it most certainly can be) and supposedly no two files can share the same hash value (they can). So anyone who knows what they are doing can and should insure any piece of data (hash values or anything else) actually do match what is claimed that they match.

      In closing a hash file is generated by specific analysis software and it’s value is associated with a particular of interest file. So in order to document the hash values of all sexting materials those materials need to be run through the analysis software first. So say two fourteen year olds did consensually exchange content. Despite not considering themselves victims one or more government authorities might and the simple knowledge of that could be troublesome and impossible to correct.

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