'The Moral Panic Over Sexting' by CONOR FRIEDERSDORF in The Altantic

"It is extremely common for American teenagers to text one another naked photographs. Much less frequently, they get caught. If they’re discovered by a parent or teacher, they might get off with a stern lecture or a suspension from school. In an alarming number of cases, however, adult strangers get ahold of the images and proceed to systematically destroy the lives of the young people involved.

These destroyers are neither child pornographers nor pedophiles nor blackmailers. They are representatives of the criminal-justice system: police officers, prosecutors, and judges, often well-meaning, who prosecute kids as felonious sex-criminals, sometimes putting them on sex-offender registries for life.

The latest teenagers to face this irrational treatment live in Cumberland County, North Carolina. In October of last year, during an unrelated investigation, the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department seized the cell phone of a 17-year-old boy. He had a 17-year-old girlfriend. “While our investigators went through the phone they saw there were photos of himself and another person on the phone," Sergeant Sean Swain told a local news outlet. “Simple possession having it on your cell phone is a charge itself, and if you should send it out to another person that is another charge.” "

Read the full article here.