Across the country, some police and prosecutors have brought criminal charges against teenagers for sending sexts, claiming it violates child pornography laws.
Sexting prosecutions are state-mandated slut shaming — and they come with serious consequences.
Production and possession of child pornography can carry a federal minimum sentence of 15 years. After prison, people convicted of sex offenses are placed on the sex-offender registry — making it nearly impossible to find a job, live in most areas, or go to college. Being on the sex offender registry will ruin a person’s life. That’s the sentence kids could face because some overzealous prosecutor objects to them sending a raunchy photo to their prom date.
It’s the same logic that leads district attorneys to throw rape survivors in jail to force them to testify: prosecutors say they’re punishing women and girls for their own good, as though they knew better. As though it’s worse for a young woman to send a completely consensual risque photo to her boyfriend than to end up on the sex offender registry.