Has anyone besides me never heard of “sexting”? According to Urban Dictionary, “sexting” (a.k.a. sex texting) is “the act of text messaging someone in the hopes of having a sexual encounter with them later; initially casual, transitioning into highly suggestive and even sexually explicit.” It can include just words or, in many cases, sexually charged photos of people. This disturbing new trend is happening with teens as young as the seventh grade, according to some sources. And apparently you can catch some serious jail time by doing it. It is a felony for anyone under eighteen to send or receive naked pictures on their cellular phones because it’s considered child pornography.

The usual story goes something like this: two teens are in a relationship and they can’t go 20 minutes without seeing each other or their hormones start racing like crazy. In order to calm themselves, one sends the other a naughty picture via cell phone, juicy subtitle included. The other reciprocates. Later, shockingly and without warning, the couple breaks up. One is so upset that he or she distributes the photo to classmates to get revenge. The other tells the teacher, the phones are confiscated, and both wind up with felony child pornography, obscenity, or distributing charges.

This actually happens. A teen in Allen County, Indiana was recently charged with obscenity after sending a picture of himself sans clothes to some girls in his class. Seven teens in Pennsylvania got hit with child pornography charges for doing the same thing.

The child pornography charges are engendering a huge debate among teens, teachers, prosecutors, and parents. Some say that child pornography and similar charges should be reserved for real sex offenders. Others argue that such hefty punishments should be leveled against the teens because there needs to be a sufficient deterrent against such potentially damaging behavior.

I think what two teens send between themselves on a cell phone is their business. There’s not a lot of harm done at that point. (If they’re sending those kind of pictures, it’s pretty safe to assume what they’re doing when they’re together.) But I think it should be a crime to redistribute those photos. Maybe not a felony– the “victimized” teens chose to snap pictures of themselves and send them in the first place, after all– but a misdemeanor may be appropriate. Or maybe we can just not give seventh graders cell phones to begin with.

Matt Malone

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4 Responses to Send Naked Photos and You May be Committing A Felony

  1. Rachel says:

    I have to disagree with Mr. Malone here. We are currently suffering the consequences of a generation of children growing up in an almost consequence-less world. Where once young adults learned and grew by experiencing the results of their decisions, parents and administrators now hover over them and prevent anything “bad” from happening to them. As a result, children and young adults never learn that actions have consequences.

    The fact that “sexting” indicates the level of in-person behavior is neither comforting nor an excuse. Personally, I don’t think “sexting” should be ignored because 12- and 13-year-olds are having sex.

    I believe these teenagers SHOULD be charged with distribution of child pornography, even when they are only sending the pictures to their “significant other.” (These charges will most likely be pled down.) The teens will face the very real consequences of their inappropriate and irresponsible behavior. After a few very public cases, see how many teens continue to engage in this activity. As for those charged, it will likely be expunged when they turn 18. And in the unlikely event they are actually convicted of the felony, they can petition to be removed from the sex offender list. Such charges would thus not ultimately, ruin any future possibilities. They WOULD supply a healthy dose of reality to people who think they can do anything and get away with it.

    As for parents who’ve chosen to sue the school for suspending kids caught sexting at school, rather than dealing with the obvious problems their children have, they send a terrible message to the next generation. What kind of adults will these teens grow into? What happened to parenting and personal responsibility?

  2. hb says:

    Oops, looks like my comment is in the wrong post.

  3. hb says:

    Indeed, proof is, unfortunately in these cases, difficult. But the commissioner has the power to ban the cheaters for life, and there’s not thing one Bonds, Clemens or the ultra-powerful union can do about it. The court of public opinion has already made its judgment about these liars. Clemens had the chance to exonerate himself (listen to the tapes) and couldn’t do it.

    Why bother with the charade of some ostensibly ‘fair adjudication’? Either ban the bums or, ala Maris’ fate, asterisk their statistics, which will forever stain their credibility.

    Oh, by the way, look at Bonds’ and Sosa’s rookie baseball cards–their heads don’t even resemble what they later became.

    This entire debate is so entirely farcical. We eschew common sense and decency because we’re too afraid to admit what is obvious; too afraid to admit we’re partly to blame for putting these idiots on pedestals they never deserved.

    Forget the attempts to drag them through the usual criminal justice system (hell, that’s already a joke to begin with). Selig has the the power to truly crush these cheaters. Of course, his lack of backbone is the stuff of legend, so it’s unlikely he’ll do it. Shame.