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Kansas has no separate teen sexting laws

Exchanges of sexually explicit messages or semi-nude or nude images are popular among many adults and more minors than parents may realize. Multiple studies have estimated about one in five teens have participated in some form of sexting as photo senders, recipients or distributors. In a 2013 KCTV-5 report, the Kansas City district attorney said sexting was among the "most underreported crimes."

Kansas sexting laws make no distinction between adults and teens. Sexting minors can face felony child pornography charges, punishable by prison time and compulsory sex offender registration. A criminal record plus the status of a sex offender can have a disastrous effect on a young person's future.

Some states have revised laws to make sexting between minors a juvenile crime, at least in some cases – to date, Kansas has not. However, the Kansas City DA said prosecutors examine the circumstances of a minor's case carefully before filing charges. It's more likely a minor will be charged with a serious offense when sexting is used to bully or harass rather than to share a personal nude photo.

Unfortunately, sexually explicit photos meant solely for a boyfriend or girlfriend can end up being shared without consent. Nevertheless, a sexting crime happens the moment semi-nude or nude images of a minor are transmitted from one person to another, whether the other person is the intended recipient or someone else.

These are not isolated incidents. According to a report, 49 percent of parents in a 2011 sexting survey said their children, ages 10 to 18, had received sexting messages or photos. Kansas parents whose teens have been charged with a sexting-related crime may be risking their child's future by not seeking legal advice.

Felony records can follow a convicted defendant for a lifetime barring higher education, employment, housing and other opportunities. An attorney factors in possible long-term consequences while defending the rights of accused juveniles.

Source: Futures Without Violence, "Effective Responses to Teen Sexting," accessed April. 30, 2015

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