The basis of concern about the 'Sexting': Gendered Assumptions about the harm Sexualisation causes to the young

AuthorSamantha Long
PositionBCL (Hons) LLM (Health and Care Law), University College Cork. The author would like to thank Dr Catherine O'Sullivan for her guidance in the production of this article
Pages36-49
[2015] COLR
36
THE BASIS FOR CONCERN ABOUT ‘SEXTING’: GENDERED ASSUMPTIONS
ABOUT THE HARM SEXUALISATION CAUSES TO THE YOUNG
Samantha Long*
A INTRODUCTION
In this day and age, technology is an inseparable part of adolescents’ lives.
1
A result of this
has been the emergence of the recent phenomenon of ‘sexting’, a colloquial and sensational
term utilised predominately by the media to describe ‘the transmission by text message of
one’s body image in an allegedly sexual pose’.
2
The law, as a result, has had to face an issue
‘which rests uncomfortably between the boundaries of traditional pornography and child
pornography’ and is otherwise known as ‘Self-Produced Child Pornography’.
3
The Child
Trafficking and Pornography Act 1998 (1998 Act) has now overlapped with the practice of
‘sexting’ and has made it ‘an offence to produce, distribute or possess sexual material of a
teenager’, who is therefore underage, even though the material may have been created and
sent with the full knowledge and consent of those involved.
4
Despite the distinct lack of academic literature on the subject, questions arise concerning ‘the
appropriate balance to be struck in modern society between freedom of expression, bodily
integrity, privacy and other constitutional doctrines’,
5
with Karaian for example describing the
legal classification of ‘sexting’ as child pornography as evidence of the ‘law’s explicit
*BCL (Hons) LLM (Health and Care Law), University College Cork. The author would like to thank Dr
Catherine O'Sullivan for her guidance in the production of this article.
1
Marsha Levick & Kristina Moon, ‘Prosecuting Sexting as Child Pornography: A Critique’ (2009-10) 44 Val
UL Rev 1035, 1039.
2
Brian Simpson, ‘Challenging childhood, challenging children: Children’s rights and sexting’ (20 13) 16 (5-6)
Sexualities 690, 691.
3
This term describes ‘images that possess the following criteria: they meet the legal definition of child
pornography and were originally produced by a minor with no coercion, grooming, or adult participation
whatsoever’. Mary Graw Leary, ‘Self-Produced Child Pornography: The Appropriate Societal Response to
Juvenile Self-Exploitation’ (2007) 15 Va J Soc Pol'y & L 1, 4 as referenced by Brian Hallisey, (n 4).
4
Brian Hallisey, ‘The Constitutional Status of “Sexting” and Self -Produced Child Pornography’ (2012) 22(4)
Irish Criminal Law Journal 109, 111.
5
ibid.

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