juvenile obscenity laws

Although most government limits on sexual content were gradually eliminated in the late 20th century, there remain restrictions on such content for children. In 1968, the U.S. Supreme Court established the bar for children’s exposure to it in a case involving a Bell more, New York, sandwich shop owner. Sam Ginsberg had sold

magazines featuring nude photo spreads to a 16-year-old. The local prosecutor went after Ginsberg using a state law that prohibited selling depictions of nudity to anyone under age 17. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the state law.

In broadcasting, the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld restrictions aimed at shielding children. In 1973, the FCC took action against the Pacific a Foundation, the owner of WBAI in New York, for obscenity, but no fine was imposed. The station aired George Carlin’s Filthy Words monologue. Its words, considered vulgar and offensive, were broadcast at 2 P.M. a time when children are likely to listen. The FCC’s limits on indecency have been upheld by the Court in times like these, and stations have to avoid airing such contact until late at night.

Between 1991 and 2004, Howard Stern was fined for indecency multiple times. Subsequently, he left terrestrial radio for Sirius XM. Satellite radio is not subject to restrictions and regulation. Thus, Stern could say what he wished whenever he wished.

The courts have also upheld laws against sexual depictions of juveniles as exploitative. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, “Child pornography is a form of child sexual exploitation.” During the 1980s, law enforcement crackdowns on the child pornography industry had virtually put a halt to production and distribution of this content. The prevalence of more sophisticated digital technologies complicated the question of whether certain nude and sexual depiction of minors could be prosecuted under the law. There are many sites that make it possible to easily access and distribute child pornography.

The Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) of the Department of Justice collaborates with the FBI’s High Technology and Investigate Unit, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and U.S. attorneys to prosecute those who violate child pornography laws. In addition, CEOS works with law enforcement to rescue those who are exploited and victimized.

Even if one does not click on those sites, media users in the United States, including minors, may be subject to criminal prosecution for the online distribution of any images considered indecent. In today’s world, almost everyone takes texts and sends “selfies.” Pictures that teens may take of themselves or others that are considered to be indecent and circulated online may incriminate not only the “photographer,” but also the one who received it and re-sent it. Texting such images, otherwise known as “sexting,” can be prosecuted and potentially force those sending or receiving them to register as sex offenders.

Writing Prompt Apply Your Media Literacy: Sex as Media Content

How has the development of new technology complicated the identification, apprehension, and prosecution of those who distribute offensive or obscene content using electronic media?

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