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Sexting: New Jersey among states with restrictions for teens

The English language has a powerful capacity to take in new words. One of those, of course, is "sexting." It is a pretty straightforward coinage, joining the words "sex" and "texting."

Sexting is sending sexually suggestive electronic messages to others. In many ways, it is part of a perfect cultural storm, as the widespread use of electronic devices has revolutionized the way millions of people communicate with each other. From football legend Brett Favre to political hopeful Anthony Wiener, it is clear that sexting is an increasingly common practice in a society awash in text messages.

In New Jersey and across the country, however, criminal sex offense charges are possible in certain sexting cases. This is especially true when juveniles are involved.


This month, for example, there were news reports that the state of West Virginia does not only ban adults from sending sexually. West Virginia has also passed a law making possessing or sharing sexually inappropriate images an act of delinquency. The law applies to juveniles under the age of 18.

New Jersey has its own sexting law. In some ways, it goes beyond West Virginia's. In certain cases, New Jersey's sexting law may even require sex offender registration for juveniles in sexting cases. That is an even more serious consequence for sexting than having it labeled a delinquent act.

To be sure, New Jersey is far from alone. At least 20 states have laws restricting sexting by minors and imposing penalties for violations of the law.

Whether these laws are actually effective, however, is another matter entirely. 

Source: "West Virginia Bans Sexting Between Juveniles While Creating Educational Diversion Program," The Huffington Post, Rebecca Klein, May 13, 2013

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