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Public against making teen sexting a crime

March 25, 2012 at 11:05 PM

ANN ARBOR, Mich., March 25 (UPI) -- Most U.S. adults do not support legal consequences for teens who engage in sexting -- sending sexually explicit photos via cellphone, a survey indicates.

The University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health asked 2,131 U.S. adults in January for their opinions about youth sexting and sexting legislation.

The poll found 81 percent of adults said an educational program or counseling is an appropriate consequence for teens found to have engaged in sexting.

Dr. Matthew M. Davis, poll director, said three-quarters of adults think schools should give all students and parents information on sexting, and support requiring community service for sexting teens.

In contrast, most adults do not favor legal consequences for minors who send sexually explicit photos to other minors -- 44 percent, support fines less than $500 for youth sexting, while 20 percent or fewer think teen sexting should be treated as a sex crime.

"As youth sexting has become more of a national concern, many states have acted to address the issue. However, before this poll, very little was known about what the public thinks about sexting legislation," Davis said in a statement.

The poll has a margin of error of 2 percentage points to 4 percentage points.

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