The most recent research I’m aware of on how often prosecutors use child pornography laws against teens is a study estimating that 7 percent of people arrested on suspicion of child pornography production in 2009 were teenagers who shared images with peers consensually.
I would love to see some studies of that provide more recent data. And I look forward to future research on how often prosecutors use new sexting misdemeanor laws against consensual sexters and against victims.
In the meantime, a few recent cases illustrate the need for legal reform to child pornography laws, since prosecutors are still trying to apply child porn laws to teenagers:
- Bossier City, Louisiana (April 2016): “17-year-old black boy sexting with 16-year-old white girl and guess who’s charged with child pornography.”
- Fayetteville, North Carolina (Sept 2015): “N.C. just prosecuted a teenage couple for making child porn — of themselves“
- Plymouth, MA (Jul 2015): “Six Plymouth students charged in sexting incident“
- Washington (2014): “In ‘sexting’ case Manassas City police want to photograph teen in sexually explicit manner, lawyers say“
Some high-profile cases that are less recent:
- Harrisburg, PA (2010): ““Sexting” Leads to Child Porn Charges for Teens“
- Tunkhannock, PA (2009): “ACLU Sues Prosecutor Over ‘Sexting’ Child Porn Charges“
I hope to add more cases to this page, so please comment or contact me if you come across others.