Recently, the Maryland Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction of a juvenile who was found to have violated Maryland's child pornography laws by taking a video of herself and texting it to friends. Here's a link to the article. The single dissenting judge in that case pointed out that child pornography laws were meant to prevent the exploitation of children, which did not happen in here. However, the Court majority found no exception to Maryland's child pornography laws even for cases like this.
As a Virginian, does this outcome offend your sense of justice? Well, we have the same issues with our child pornography laws.
Virginia Does Not Carve Out an Exception for Juvenile Sexting
I've previously written about Virginia's possession of child pornography statute. What's clear, unfortunately, is that our statute, like Maryland, does not provide an exception for children who film or photograph themselves. That means that your child, student, niece or nephew, etc. are exposed to serious criminal justice liability for sexting. While, of course, I don't condone this behavior, to allow it open up a child to criminal liability is truly unjust.
Of course, how you educate your child about the "birds and the bees" is a very personal and intimate choice for you and your family. Unfortunately, to not properly educate them about Virginia's child pornography laws can leave your child at risk of truly devastating consequences under our criminal justice system.
Why Don't They Just Change the Law to Account For Kids?
Honestly, I have no idea. Why this has not been dealt with, to me, is legislative malpractice. We need to change our laws to not expose our youths to even more risk in an already overwhelming world.
This society has seen so much change, and one huge reason for that is the advancement in our technology. Now, mistakes are documented and archived on social media forever. It's a world that us older Americans simply don't understand. We need to account for these changes and avoid the unmistakable flaws in our laws.
What Can I Do?
Get involved. Reach out to your local legislature and let them know that you support a change in our laws. And if they don't listen, make sure that your friends and family get involved too. This needs to change, and now.