The line between legal and illegal sexting is too thin for many to see.
Teens all around the United States are have gotten involved in the “send nudes” trend. According to Knowyourmeme.com, “Send Nudes is an expression used to request sexually explicit photographs from someone via various forms of communication. The phrase is often referenced as an unexpected punch line in images and videos.” Most of us dismiss the trend as normal because the actions rarely involve police. However, there are prejudices in the judicial system that put you at risk and capitalize from the criminalization of teens in that “almost-an-adult” stage.
Levar Allen, a 17 year old star pupil and excellent athlete from Bossier City, Louisiana knows the consequences of this reality better than most. As the star athlete at his school, he had many admirers. One student showed their liking for him by sending sexually explicit videos of herself. She was 16 when her parents found out. What Allen didn’t realize was that by receiving those sexts from a minor, he instantly became a sexual offender. His sending of sexts back didn’t help either. His whole reputation was damaged before he knew it and though her participation was just as illegal as his, she did not experience legal consequences.
Some argue that his conviction was because of racial prejudices, considering Allen was black and the unnamed girl was white. Others, believe that he was considered more of a criminal because of his gender, and experienced sexist treatment. The bottom line is, our society is filled with laws that thrive off racist stigmas and toxic masculinity, it is hard to figure out when justice is truly being served. In a country like the United States, one that thrives on prejudice, Allen’s identity was almost a recipe for disaster and a ticket to a jail cell.
Many would agree that in the 21st century, sexting cases between two minors very rarely lead to an arrest, and that it is a low risk practice. Sexting is only a serious situation when it involves child-exploitation or possession of child pornography. These offenses are usually made with intention to sell or display on the Internet, but anyone can unintentionally break this law. The sexting tightrope is a dangerous one to balance on in a nation that thrives off of prejudice. There is no way to play it safe when it comes to breaking the law. When you are a member of a marginalized group, just as Allen is, the chances of being unreasonably punished by law are even higher. Either way it goes, despite intent, sexting is illegal and teens must always remember to be conscious of who they are, what they are doing and who they’re doing it with.