Fifteen percent of teenagers who have cell phones say they are involved in sexting. Just think, millions of teenagers sending or receiving child porn. All of them criminals. The response to this is to try and get teenagers to cut it out. And those in charge make it clear how much they take this to be a war: "However, the real battle may be trying to get teens to think before they act...Getting teens to think before they act is fight that's gone on for generations..."
In any war there's bound to be young casualties on the frontlines. In the end I doubt this will be any more successful than the 200 year war against masturbation. Neither of which seem to be going away by judicial decree alone, both of which produced many young causalities. These days, it's easy for most common people to blame the media, video games, popular music, and parents as the culprits than to admit that it's only natural for young people to have a sexuality and to express it with each other. Once they stoop to finger pointing, they're essentially admitting defeat.
The article linked above points out a story of an 18 year old who posted naked pictures of his 16 year old girlfriend to friends over a fight against her permission, which is technically a sexual offense no matter what age one is. The issue here isn't that there's never any foul play involved in a sexting case, it's that his subsequent registration as a sex offender was entirely made on the basis of her being a minor. Many sexting cases that end up with the teens registered as sex offenders, as we've noted before, involved nothing but consensual parties.
"What kids are doing today is no different than what they were doing 10, 20, 30, 40 years ago," says ACLU attorney Vic Walczak. "What's different is the technology has changed and it's now more visible."
It's nice to see so many legal professionals agree that laws governing sexting need to be reevaluated and changed to give teens more leeway. Far from just admitting defeat, we're already seeing this underway in states like Vermont and Utah. It appears that when something that is so broadly implicated to the point that one's own children may unwittingly jeopardize themselves because of it, that's when we start to see parents and law makers begin to call their assumptions into question. It's got to be pervasive before anything is done about it, sadly.
It wasn't that long ago when the adults of today were teens. Back in the 80's their thing was "phone sex" on party lines. All the cool kids were doing it. Oh how quickly the generation gap unwinds itself.
Sexual expression in adolescence has always been around and always will be, it was only relatively recently in the history of mankind that it was made illegal.