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A new study in Pediatrics looks at the issue of teens and “sexting,” which can get a student expelled and arrested in some states on criminal charges.

The Juvenile Justice Information Exchange’s take on the study, based on a survey with kids, says it dispels some of the most frightening notions about an activity that schools and legislators have been rapidly criminalizing.

But the debate rages on over how to deal with sexting’s most damaging consequences, which have been linked to teen victims’ suicides, while balancing sensible responses to rash teen behavior, as the JJIE explored in a previous report.

California’s state Senate approved a bill in 2011 to punish student sexting with mandatory expulsion, but the state’s Assembly stopped short and didn’t pass the proposal. Various states have looked at requiring mandatory counseling for a first offense. The Center for Public Integrity recently investigated extremely high expulsion rates in California’s Kern County.


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Susan Ferriss is a senior reporter at the Center for Public Integrity. She joined the Center in 2011,...