Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Sexting - Should Teens Be Prosecuted?
There is a fast-growing trend among teens called "Sexting" in which they send nude or semi-nude pictures or of themselves or say sexually explicit things to each other. All morals aside, these teens could be prosecuted for a crime because it is technically considered child pornography. Philip Alpert had just turned 18 when he sent a naked photo of his 16-year-old girlfriend to friends and family after an argument. Alpert was arrested and charged with sending child pornography and is now a registered felon and sex offender. Sexting is treated as child pornography in almost every state, yet many teens still send these pictures knowing the risk. However, to many people, it just seems like harmless fun. Many females send it to their boyfriends or to guys they like, and then the guys send them to their friends. These pictures can happen anywhere, even during a sleepover. Marissa Miller was 12 when she was in a sleepover with her friends and were taking pictures of themselves in training bras. The picture surfaced on a student's cellphone years later when the girl was 15. Her mom got a call from the District Attorney's office. The DA gave two options, participate in classes and write a report explaining why what she did was wrong or have charges filed against her. This I think is taking it too far. I can understand why teens sending naked pictures of friends or boyfriends to other people, especially as a way to "get back at them", is wrong. There is also a question of copyright and permission for photos. The person who takes the picture holds the copyright of that photo and can give permission for others to use. If the person didn't give permission, that could also be grounds against the sender. But I don't believe these teenagers should be charged as felons and sex offenders. I think more should be done to educate them about the dangers of a digital record. These days, we cannot do crazy things or act out of character because there is big chance that someone will take a picture or a video. We have to be very careful with what we say or do because it is easy for people to capture it and send it to everyone in the world, if they wanted. And these teens are so young, it would be unfortunate for their record to be affected for such a large part of their lives. A lot of these acts seem to be benign and are so quick and easy to do. I don't think teens realize what they are doing until it's too late and people are talking about it. Even if teens aren't sending explicit messages, they may be receiving explicit messages. Eventually, I think the legal system will catch up to these trends and charge teens who sext differently from adult pedofiles. Until then, we really have to talk to our youth. They are growing up too fast these days!!