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Sexting PanicRethinking Criminalization, Privacy, and Consent$
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Amy Adele Hasinoff

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780252038983

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252038983.001.0001

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The criminalization consensus and the right to sext

The criminalization consensus and the right to sext

(p.25) Chapter 1 The criminalization consensus and the right to sext
Sexting Panic

Amy Adele Hasinoff

University of Illinois Press

This chapter examines the consensus that teenagers should have no right to sext and argues for the decriminalization of consensual teen sexting. It begins with a discussion of two cases at the beginning of the moral panic about sexting in 2009: in the first, the American Civil Liberties Union supported three girls who were threatened with child pornography charges by an overzealous prosecutor; the second case is the development of Vermont's sexting legislation in 2009. The chapter then considers the main problems with the criminalization of consensual sexting: the uneven application of the law, punitive and unfair education programs, and the silencing of victims whose privacy has been violated. It also outlines arguments in favor of allowing teens to sext, contending that this could, among other things, confirm their right to freedom of expression. The chapter concludes by contending that it may be more practical to think about regulating consensual sexting as a sex act (rather than a speech act).

Keywords:   teenagers, decriminalization, sexting, criminalization, consensual sexting, freedom of expression, American Civil Liberties Union, child pornography, Vermont, sexting legislation

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