Blaire Bayliss


"Sexting" is a term that refers to the exchange of sexually explicit or sexually suggestive messages or images between individuals using electronic messaging. Teenage sexting is a controversial legal topic because the act of taking nude or semi-nude pictures of a minor technically constitutes child pornography under federal law, even when those pictures were self-portraits taken by the minor in question. This Comment argues that the prosecution of sexting under federal child pornography law constitutes the criminalization of adolescent exploration of sexuality and that states should adopt their own sexting-specific laws to address teenage sexting in a manner that respects teenagers' personal freedom and bodily autonomy. Part I of this Comment looks at the background of teen sexting, including the long history of teenage sexual expression. Part II examines the current state of the law across both federal and state levels. Part III observes the harm caused by the current law. Part IV describes potential solutions to the problems caused by the current law and proposes a new model law that is better tailored to the specific problems found in teen sexting.