Minors Sexting and Child Pornography Charges – What is Justice?

Are child pornography charges ever appropriate in teen sexting cases? We asked Reddit, and the responses might surprise you.

redditWe wrote earlier this month about how a New Jersey teen sexting case looks like it will end up in criminal charges for young two individuals.

In the case, a West Orange boy is accused of sending nude photos of his ex-girlfriend to another girl, who then allegedly shared the pictures with friends and may have posted them online. Both of the teens, 16-years-old, have been charged with distributing child pornography and endangering the welfare of a child. The victim is 17 years old.

The case raises a number of questions, and child porn charges for teens over pictures that were acquired legitimately seem very steep. We posted a question and link to the story on the popular social networking site Reddit, to see what kind of justice the average American would like to see applied in cases such as these. To get an “average” opinion, we posted our question in the r/NewJersey subreddit, not a parenting forum. As background, since the average Reddit user is around 30 years old, many of the folks who replied probably aren’t even parents.

On the question of whether child porn charges are appropriate, some of the NO answers:

It’s a bit much. Sending a nude pic of one of their peers is not the same as child pornography. They should be punished but let’s not be ridiculous.


It’s ridiculous that the penalty for teen sexting is worse than the actual consequence of teen sexting.


They should not be charged the same as a full grown adult distributing images of child sex abuse. they should receive something APPROPRIATE for distributing images of a minor that where voluntarily taken and sent.


I know when I was 16 I wasn’t thinking correctly with a lot of decisions I was making. They should be charged with something but child porn? That’s life ruining, in prison you’re going to get raped and beat the f*** up.

and finally

They really want to institutionalize these kids at an early age. Whether it’s in public schools, juvy, or prison, they want these kids in the system and mindlessly obeying authority from as early an age as possible.

It’s f***ing disgusting. These are kids man. Can you remember what you were like at 16? I was a dumb-ass, immature little punk as were most kids.

On the YES, it’s appropriate side of the ledger, here’s the most popular answer:

As the images were sent without the consent of the girl — who was under 18 — then yes, they made the right call. F*** this “dumb teen” bulls**t. At 16 you fully understand that individuals have rights and privacy. This isn’t one of those times where a teenager gets in trouble for sending THEIR pictures; this is someone “leaking” picture that they had no authority to share.

and also

Agreed, I understand the penalty is harsh, but this sending pictures of your ex to get back at them has got to stop. Those pictures never go away once they are posted, these kids need to understand that.

On whether the victim, if she took the original photos or agreed to have them taken, bears any responsibility:

Why then did the original sender of her own nude photos not get arrested for child pornography? She would be just as guilty


I mean if they’re going to charge them, they might as well charge the girl who took the picture of herself. This really isn’t in the spirit of the law.

the third like this

If the subject of the photos took the photos and sent them in the first place, she should be charged as well.

Opinions are mixed, but most respondents are willing to assign some level of blame to the teens in this case, and some form of punishment for the accused. We’re not sure whether teen sexual activity has increased, but the ease with which provocative photos can be shared has skyrocketed. A constant dialog between teens and parents is needed to minimize the chances of your family finding itself in a similar situation.


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

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