Washington Law Review


Keeping up with Technology: Why a Flexible Juvenile Sexting Statute Is Needed to Prevent Overly Severe Punishment in Washington State

October 01, 2014 | 89 Wash. L. Rev. 1009

Abstract:  Sexting can be a costly activity, particularly for teenagers. As more teenagers engage in sending sexually explicit images to one another, the likelihood of serious long-term consequences increases. When sexting is used as a means to bully, the potential severity of consequences also increases. In many jurisdictions, prosecutors may charge juveniles caught sexting with possession or distribution of child pornography. At the same time, some states have recognized the severity of such a charge and found other ways of addressing the teen sexting problem. This Comment addresses the current issues surrounding juvenile sexting by examining empirical data, legal responses, and legislative reactions. It argues that Washington’s current approach to juvenile sexting is inappropriate and should be amended. It suggests a two-tiered statute that separates non-malicious juvenile sexting from malicious juvenile sexting. The proposed statute, which would punish cyberbullying and malicious juvenile sexting more severely, will allow Washington to effectively deter harmful behavior while taking into account juvenile immaturity.

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