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46 U. Mich. J.L. Reform 703 (2012-2013)
A Victimless Sex Crime: The Case for Decriminalizing Consensual Teen Sexting

handle is hein.journals/umijlr46 and id is 723 raw text is: A VICTIMLESS SEX CRIME: THE CASE FOR
DECRIMINAIZING CONSENSUAL TEEN SEXTING
Joanna R. Lampe*
As teenagers' access to cellular phones and the internet has increased over the past
two decades, so has their ability to harm themselves and others through misuse of
new technology. One risky behavior that has become common among teenagers is
sexting--the digital sharing of sexually suggestive images. To combat the dan-
gers of teen sexting, many states have criminalized the act. Criminalization does
not resolve the issue of teen sexting, however, and in many cases it may cause
additional harm. This Note reviews existing state laws related to teen sexting, and
critiques these laws on constitutional and policy grounds. It then proposes a model
statute to decriminalize consensual teen sexting.
INTRODUCTION
With great power comes great responsibility.1 The rapid develop-
ment of cellular phone and Internet technology over the past two
decades has given users unprecedented power to connect and share
information through digital channels. Unfortunately, teenage users
are not always prepared to use technology responsibly. Teenagers
exploring new technological frontiers often lack firm guidance
from parents and educators, who may not fully understand the new
technologies or their attendant risks. Furthermore, legal controls
over new technologies are often poorly defined or ill-adapted to
deal with emerging challenges. One area where this is particularly
true is sexting.
A product of the digital age, the word sexting may be confusing
because it is newly coined2 and inconsistently used.3 In colloquial
*    J.D. candidate, University of Michigan Law School, May 2013. 1 would like to thank
Vivian Chang and Paul Caritj for their invaluable comments during the revision process, and
my parents for their support of this and all my other projects. This Note received the 2012 E.
Blythe Stason Award for the best student contribution in the University of Michigan Journal of
Law Reform.
1.   See, e.g., Tammany is Satisfied, N.Y. TIMES, Nov. 15, 1892; STAN LEE, AMAZING FANTASY
#15, 11 (1962).
2.   Mary Graw Leary, Sexting or Self-Produced Child Pornography? The Dialog Continues-
Structured Prosecutorial Discretion Within a Multidisciplinary Response, 17 VA. J. Soc. POL'Y & L.
486, 492 (2010) (noting that sexting is a word coined by the media that has been in frequent
use since approximately 2008).
3.   Florida's Criminal Code, for example, defines sexting by a minor as Us[e of] a
computer, or any other device capable of electronic data transmission or distribution, to
transmit or distribute to another minor any photograph or video of any person which depicts
nudity, . . . and is harmful to minors[,] or possessing such an image. FLA. STAT. ANN.

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