by Mary Graw Leary
A proposed law in Vermont will not only do little to solve the problem of “sexting,” but actually risks resulting in making even more children vulnerable to sexual exploitation.
The issue of so-called “sexting” has captured the attention of the media and, now, the legislatures. But the way the media has handled the complicated social issue of children sending pornographic pictures of themselves to others has brought the Vermont legislature to the verge of creating a bad law. The Vermont proposal would exempt the trading of self-produced images of child pornography from some child pornography statutes. The issue of self-produced child pornography (which is defined as a minor creating a picture of him or herself which meets the definition of child pornography: i.e. engaged in sexually explicit conduct) is a complex one. The Vermont legislature seems more concerned with the secondary problem of unwise prosecutions than it is with the behavior itself. However, by neglecting the main problem, the legislation risks significant damage to the children engaged in this behavior and undermines the broader battle against child pornography.