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We suggest that young people’s consensually created and distributed sexual imagery, including their distribution of imagery to those whom they are not in an intimate relationship with, poses little risk to children.
Notably, despite the fact that the legal rationale for criminalizing child pornography rests on fears about the risk of sexual exploitation, this fear plays a very minor role in anti-sexting PSAs and warnings 12.It is a component of diverse forms of calculative rationality for governing the conduct of individuals, collectives and populations” (, p. In Part II we assert that the risk regimes documented in the previous section act as a proxy for moralizing and thus governing youth sexuality [9,20,21,22], and suggest that any research examining sexting’s risks ought to consider additional and alternative variables and theoretical frameworks 10.In an effort to reconsider and resist the risk based moral regulation of adolescent sexual expression we reframe consensual teenage sexting through queer theorizations of temporality and futurity, in particular Judith Halberstam’s theorization of “queer time” and risk [23,24].Canadian policing and child protection agencies have emphasized the risks of sexting since 2005 when Cybertip.ca—Canada’s national tipline for reporting the online sexual exploitation of children—issued a public alert about “the growing trend of young girls posing nude for webcams and the distribution of the resulting photos and videos on the Internet” [10,25].Subsequently, provincial and federal policing units across Canada released warnings about the myriad risks that sexting poses for both teens and their parents.While this claim is not completely unfounded , a survey of college-bound students conducted by Kaplan found that more than three-quarters of respondents said they would not be concerned if a college admissions officer Googled them .Part of this confidence had to do with youths’ increased online savviness and their attention to “strengthening privacy settings and circumventing searches [as demonstrated by the fact that] 22% had changed their searchable names on social media, 26% had untagged themselves from photos, and 12% had deleted their social media profiles altogether.” The study also acknowledged that such online searches might in fact be beneficial for youth if they “turn up postings of sports scores, awards, public performances or news of something interesting they’ve undertaken”  14.Conversely, since the Supreme Court’s decision in , the purpose of which is to protect children from exploitation and abuse by prohibiting possession of material that presents a “reasoned risk of harm to children” . Thus, to remedy the law’s over breadth the court upheld the law’s constitutionality but determined that it must not be applied to two categories of material—minors’ “self-created, privately held expressive materials” and minors’ “private recordings that do not depict unlawful sexual activity” (, para. Indeed, the court went so far as to acknowledge that such imagery may be “of significance to adolescent self-fulfillment, self-actualization and sexual exploration and identity” (, para. As such, as long as youth consensually create and exchange sexual imagery with other minors with whom they are in an intimate and non-exploitative relationship, for their personal and private mutual enjoyment, such imagery ought to be constitutionally protected.When considering the dual concerns of protecting children and protecting free expression, Chief Justice Mc Lachlin, writing on behalf of the majority, found that prohibition against possession of child pornography “captures in its sweep materials that arguably pose little or no risk to children, and that deeply implicate the freedom [of expression] guaranteed under s. Despite the existence of this exemption, present day social, political, and extra/legal debates surrounding teenage sexting in Canada tend not to acknowledge the constitutionality of this subset of teenagers’ consensual sexual expression 5.One such warning issued by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in 2011 claims: of Canada.Further, a person sending a photo or video, even of themselves, can be charged with Distributing Child Pornography.