This article examines the motivations, techniques and potential consequences of the governance of teenage sexting. I examine the over-representation of white, middle-class, heterosexual, female sexters, and abstinence from sexting discourses in the ‘Respect Yourself’ child protection/crime prevention initiative. This campaign, I suggest, exploits slut shaming in an effort to responsibilize teenage girls for preventing the purported harms that may flow from sexting—including humiliation, sexual violations and criminalization—for both themselves and their peers. I examine this responsibilization effort through the lens of critical whiteness, queer, girlhood/young feminist and porn studies’ theorizations of the politics of sexual respectability and sexual subjectification and argue that this campaign simultaneously: reveals anxieties about the decline of the moral authority of the white, middle-class, heterosexual nuclear family; constitutes certain teenage girls’ unintelligibility as sexual subjects; and, undermines teenage girls’ ability to challenge a normative sexual order in which they are often blamed extra/legally for their sexual victimization.

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Keywords Crime prevention, politics of respectability, responsibilization, slut shaming, teenage sexting
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Journal Theoretical Criminology
Karaian, L. (2014). Policing ‘sexting’: Responsibilization, respectability and sexual subjectivity in child protection/crime prevention responses to teenagers’ digital sexual expression. Theoretical Criminology, 18(3), 282–299. doi:10.1177/1362480613504331