Lawyers are fighting to stop sexting teens being branded 'sex offenders'

'Don't criminalise the selfie generation'

Lawyers fight to decriminalise sexting teens

A group of lawyers is fighting to defend teenage sexters who are over the age of consent from being labelled as sex offenders.

Sexting teens have a problem. If you take an explicit photograph of yourself and you're under 18 years old, you've committed the serious criminal offence of creating an indecent photograph of a child - even if you're over the age of consent.

Despite being over 16 and exchanging sexts with a consensual partner, you could be cautioned, fined and put on the sex offenders register for your acts.

Selfie generation

Backlash, an action group formed of concerned lawyers, provides legal help to teens caught out by the legislation that causes this disparity, and aims to have it changed. The group warned that government policies are misguidedly criminalising the 'selfie generation' because politicians don't understand how technology - or teens' brains - work.

"By criminalising young people between the ages of sixteen and eighteen, our political and justice systems show how disconnected they are from technological change and social values," obscenity law expert and Backlash's legal adviser Myles Jackson explained.

After a girl was investigated for sending her boyfriend a topless photo in Nottingham last year, Detective Inspector Martin Hillier wrote to school officials to highlight the risks:

"I have grave concerns over the amount of referrals Nottinghamshire police are receiving on a daily basis in relation to naked images being sent between teenagers via either social networking, texts or mobile phone apps. It is crucial that children (under 18 years) understand that every internet site and social networking site is monitored by an administrator," he wrote.

"When photographs that fall within the category of an indecent image (even if taken with consent) are uploaded, reports are made by the administrators to the police. If a person is aged over 10yrs and distributes (shares - even to friends) an indecent image then they can be arrested, charged and dealt with for this offence. If they are found guilty they must then register as a sex offender."

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