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Twitter chat: Should teen sexting be a felony?

In a cover story in this month’s The Atlantic, Hanna Rosin tackled the question of “Why Kids Sext.” According to Rosin’s article, surveys have found that approximately one-third of children in their upper teens have “sexted,” that is sent naked or provocative pictures of themselves using a cell phone or electronic device.

In many states, this act is considered a felony under child pornography laws, regardless of the circumstances under which the sext was sent and whether or not it was consensual. Further clouding the issue, the “victim” appearing in the photograph is often also the “perpetrator,” seen by the courts as guilty of distributing child pornography for having taken and sent the photograph.

Rosin explored these issues in a recent interview with PBS NewsHour co-anchor Judy Woodruff, the first in an ongoing series of collaborations between The Atlantic and the PBS NewsHour. We took the conversation to Twitter. Should all teen sexting be treated as a crime? If not, under what circumstances does it cross the line? Who is accountable in a teen sexting case? The sender? The recipient? Both? Should law enforcement be responsible for disciplining teens who engage in sexting, or should this duty fall to parents and educators?

Hanna Rosin (@HannaRosin) and Amy Hasinoff (@amyadele), author of the forthcoming book “Sexting Panic: Rethinking Criminalization, Privacy, and Consent” shared their perspective on these questions and more. Read a transcript of the discussion below.

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