Last month, the House of Representatives approved a bill that has the potential to lock up teens for more than a decade. The effort goes against a growing push to change the justice system nationwide so that kids — the country's most vulnerable — aren't robbed of chances at reform or treated as adults in the system. Called the Protecting Against Child Exploitation Act of , the bill would enact a mandatory minimum sentence of at least 15 years for, among other things, using phones to exchange nude photos. It landed in the Senate Judiciary Committee this week. Though it is intended to close loopholes exploited by child pornographers, the law, which expressly states that the mandatory minimums will apply equally to an attempt or a conspiracy, could affect teenagers engaging in consensual nude photo exchanges, which according to a Drexel University study, most teens do.
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Teenagers are drafted into a sexual culture that rests on a harmful premise: On the heterosexual field, boys typically play offense and girls play defense. An analysis of nearly accounts from to year-old girls about their negative experiences with sexting found that over two-thirds had been asked for explicit images. As one research participant explained about being pressured by her boyfriend, with the shorthand and spelling errors of a texting teenager:. Now he threarens to send them out if i dont send hin more really nasty pics. The stuff i have to do is unbelievable.
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His case has drawn national scrutiny, but North Carolina's controversial law isn't unique. States require people convicted of various sex-related offenses to publicly register as sex offenders. They don't always make exceptions for kids, even if their cases are adjudicated in juvenile court. Marsha Levick, deputy director and chief counsel at the Juvenile Law Center, said that youth are unlikely to get in trouble for possessing nude selfies. Possessing a nude photo of yourself does not really fit that definition or concern ," she told The Huffington Post.
Sexting is sending, receiving, or forwarding sexually explicit messages, photographs, or images, primarily between mobile phones, of oneself to others. It may also include the use of a computer or any digital device. The first published use of the term sexting was in a article in the Australian Sunday Telegraph Magazine. Sexting has become more common with the rise in camera phones and smartphones with Internet access, that can be used to send explicit photographs as well as messages. Young adults use the medium of the text message much more than any other new media to transmit messages of a sexual nature,  and teenagers who have unlimited text messaging plans are more likely to receive sexually explicit texts.