sexting2Child pornography is a disturbing crime that has become amplified by the ease with which photos and video can be transferred over the Internet. This week 57 people were arrested in Canada in a child porn crackdown. Last year, Australian police broke a child porn ring that stretched across 170 countries and led to the arrest of 200 men and the confiscation of 14,000 computers. In recent years, law enforcement agencies around the world stepped up efforts to bust adults who have profit at the expense of children through child pornography. But what happens when children publish their own pornography?

In Pennsylvania, three teenage girls have been charged with child pornography for allowing themselves to be photographed partially nude. The girls are part of a growing trend among teenagers called sexting, sending test messages containing sexually charged photos. In New Jersey, a 14-year-old girl has been charged with child pornography for posting nearly 30 explicit nude photos of herself on MySpace. If convicted, the charges would force her to register as a sex offender, a stigma that would remain with her for life.

Roughly 20 percent of teens admit to participating in sexting. The increase in teens swapping nude photos has parents and lawmakers scrambling for ways to address it. States including New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, North Dakota, Ohio, Utah, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin have begun bringing legal charges against teens caught sexting. Civil liberties organizations are fighting against this response arguing that felony charges are too severe for the crime. Many are watching the New Jersey case against the 14-year-old believing that it will set a precedent for how states deal with the issue.

Canada makes 57 arrests in child porn crackdown [Reuters]
Prosecutor sued over semi-nude teen photos case [Reuters]
Girl, 14, Faces Porn Charges For Nude Photos [NPR]
“Sexting” Shockingly Common Among Teens [CBS News]

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