6 NJ Teens Face Child Porn Charges After Sexting Outbreak

Six teens from sleepy North Jersey towns including Little Falls and West Orange are hoping that an upcoming family court appearance will keep them from facing the worst-case scenario after what sounds like widespread sexting got out of hand.

In the case, six teens ranging in age from 14 – 17 have been charged with second-degree distribution of child pornography and fourth-degree possession of child pornography.

The sexting itself may have been going on for a while, but the investigation apparently began when it was reported that one teen had hacked into another’s Kik account (a messaging app), and distributed inappropriate photos to others.

The laws are currently behind the times when it comes to cases such as this. According to Brooklyn attorney Carrie Goldberg:

“The child porn laws didn’t anticipate selfies – and teen-to-teen sexting – at all,” Goldberg said. “Youth can be thoughtless and cruel – and you add a cell phone, and it can be a recipe for disaster.”

If the kids are charged as it stands now, those facing distribution of child porn charges could get up to 10 years on those counts alone if found guilty. Hopefully it won’t get that far, as the cases are headed to family court where a judge could go easy on them.

When we originally commented on the case in April, only two teens had been charged. The police investigation that followed including examining the teens’ phones, one of which had 39,000 messages on it.

It’s not just the laws that are behind the times when it comes to teen sexting – parents are too. It’s a reality these days that if teens are dating or hanging out with members of the opposite sex, some level of sexting may be going on. We can’t be sure that the inappropriate pictures were actually obtained by hacking a Kik account, but private accounts can be compromised. It’s more likely that the teen was sloppy with his password, or shared the pics with someone then claimed to have been hacked when things got out of hand.

Parents can play defense by talking to teens openly about the risks associated with sexting before it starts happening, and updating the conversation with frequent reminders, perhaps referencing cases like this one.

 

Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring child and teen internet activity.

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