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Many more states are considering legislation that establish penalties for minors, which include warnings, fines, probation and detention.

As the New York Times explained, “Teenagers who sext are in a precarious legal position.

Though in most states teenagers who are close in age can legally have consensual sex, if they create and share sexually explicit images of themselves, they are technically producing, distributing or possessing child pornography.

Licensed clinical social worker Amy Morin suggests several steps to take if you find that your child is participating in sexting.

You should consider whether there is a legal issue, and if so, contact a lawyer who specializes in sex crimes in your state.

But those aren’t the only consequences to be concerned about — sexting can result in a tarnished reputation which could affect the potential for career opportunities and scholastic pursuits. An adult who sends or receives sexually explicit material of someone under the age of 18 is subject to prosecution under federal law, which could result in hefty fines and incarceration.

Because sexting has become so popular amongst teens, many states have enacted specific laws that address sexting by minors under the age of 18, or even 17 in some cases.

The laws that cover this situation, passed decades ago, were meant to apply to adults who exploited children and require those convicted under them to register as sex offenders.” The Times goes on to report that “in the past, partners wrote love letters, sent suggestive Polaroids and had phone sex.

Today, for better or worse, this kind of interpersonal sexual communication also occurs in a digital format.” Recognizing that sexting is an activity that many teens participate in — its estimated that a third of 16- and 17-year olds have sexted — many states have established laws that carry lesser penalties in an attempt to prevent lives from being ruined because of participation in a widespread, modern-day activity.