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'Sexting' teens face porn charges

March 8, 2009 at 11:11 AM

ORLANDO, Fla., March 8 (UPI) -- Authorities say more U.S. teenagers are finding themselves in legal trouble for sending nude photos of acquaintances via their cellphones and the Web.

A study by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy suggested 20 percent of teenagers have sent nude photos of themselves electronically, said Marisa Nightingale, a spokeswoman for the campaign.

"It's become a troubling trend," Nightingale said of so-called "sexting." "Since the beginning of time, teens have flirted with each other and pushed the envelope. But 10 to 15 years ago, it didn't go global in 30 seconds."

Teenagers end up facing jail and having to register as sex offenders if the photos are of a minor, said Lawrence Walters, an Orlando, Fla., lawyer who has been following the sexting trend.

"Kids shouldn't be doing this. But using these harsh criminal laws for child pornography is a bit of overkill," Walters told The Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel in a story published Sunday.

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