Should ’sexting’ be decriminalized?

Good news! Our courts are going after child pornographers with a vengeance, using technology like cell phones and social networking sites to locate and trap these heinous criminals and throw the book at them. The only glitch in this admirable fight for justice? The “scum” appear to be our own kids.

Youthful hormones and high-tech communication have dovetailed as of late, and “sexting” is the result — racy pics teens send each other via cell phone. Think this dangerous and vile behavior is part of an edgy subculture? A recent survey by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned pregnancy claims that 20 percent of our teens are involved in “sexting” activities. “It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity,” Einstein once said, making me wonder if he saw this one coming.

I’m shocked by how widespread this activity has become and grateful to live in a community filled with adults who are “on it” in a big way, from academic and home life consequences to strict monitoring of teen behavior. Still, I’m more shocked by the way the law has swooped in, labeling young, impulsive teenagers child pornographers.

Really? That’s how we fix this? A boy in Texas is arrested on child pornography charges for simply having a racy photo on his phone. A 14-year-old New Jersey girl posts explicit pictures of herself on MySpace and could be forced to register as a sex offender under Megan’s Law.

Even Maureen Kanka, Megan’s mother, is appalled. “This shouldn’t fall under Megan’s Law in any way, shape or form” the mother of the raped and murdered Megan Kanka declared, understanding that the MySpace exhibitionist needs help, not an avalanche of legal restrictions that will ruin her life forever.

Legislators in Vermont are trying to stop the madness, creating a bill that would remove the most serious legal consequences for “sexting” kids, such as a lifetime on the state’s Internet sex offender registry. Unfortunately, Vermont’s governor is disinclined to support such a bill, feeling that decisions about these charges should be left up to prosecutors.

Either Gov. Douglas hasn’t been reading the same stories I have, or he thinks the best way to deal with tech-crazed, impulsive teens is to brand them child pornographers and sex offenders. Makes me kind of wonder if our legal system has exceeded our humanity…

Should ’sexting’ be decriminalized?

Making young teens register as sex offenders is foolish, but decriminalization is not the solution — especially for those who pass along sexual images without consent. Let’s not ignore the most relevant question: is this new and exploding behavioral trend good, bad or neutral for those involved and the public at large?

Many must believe it is neutral, or even trivial, if they prefer no systematic consequences. But it is flat-out wrong and dangerous, often with life-impacting consequences for those involved. Especially for the female subjects who are left with their reputation in tatters and future in doubt, while the teen male traffickers get off scot free. As Vicki Courtney, author of “Five Conversations You Must Have With Your Daughter,” e-mailed me, “Girls are often convinced to do this for the guys to get their attention. Then in a break-up situation the guys often use it against them later. If you legalize sexting, the guys come out as the clear winners. The girls pay.”

One of the main reasons teens do this is that they don’t think it is a big deal. And how will they ever recognize that it is, without systemic consequences? Most of these same kids would never steal a DVD from a store. They may be tempted to, but they know it is wrong and that they’ll be caught and punished. Being 15 years old and stupid is no excuse.

Passing along someone else’s sexual image is far worse than stealing – yet Andy wants to make being “young and impulsive’” a legal free pass.

By contrast, Kari Glemaker, national director for iCare, pointed out in a recent interview that, “If you shoplift as a minor, there is still a consequence, just not as big as for an adult. Similarly, my county is looking to define sexting as a misdemeanor, without jail time if there is no other criminal background, possibly with a fine or community service, as well as awareness classes. To say there should be no legal consequence until age 18 is ludicrous.”

Andy and other parents agree that sexting is a big deal, but that we shouldn’t treat it as such. I say if we don’t treat it as such then teenagers will never realize it is a big deal.

455 comments Add your comment

JokesOn

May 1st, 2009
5:41 pm

Yea, go for that big money. $1,000 buys one second of finished animation from me.

Finished animation. Finished animation. Which translates to how many hours of work? That is if you were telling the truth. You do not even know anything beyond the basics of 3d animation as proven by YOUR posts! Idiot. Add this to the list of personal lies you have peddled on the blog.

Running list of lies: aborted child, beautiful foreign gfs whom are objectified no less, gf died in car wreck (oddly there was no news report regarding it either – yes I googled it), J-School or Journalism knowledge, finances (you had to live uncomfortably for a whole season bc you could not replace your AC unit), you know about http protocol and are web savvy, your kid thinks in binary with his friends…

My son was doing what you do when he was 9. He sold his first animation when he was ten and he built his last “hobby” computer when he was 13. He helps me out when I need it, but he hasn’t ever had to make a living being a wire rat (or groveling for pool winnings.)

He built is LAST pc when he was 13? But, you stated he builds your machines. Is he 13 now? Caught you in another lie.

And I don’t shoot for income. I shoot good and it pays for my whole hobby; all 15 of my Mucci cues, pool time (the halls I play in are $35+ an hour table-time, they serve $98 Kobe steaks which you will never be able to taste – and they wouldn’t let you in wearing your wife-beater and cut off shorts), and entertainment for the night leaving much left over for kicks.I shoot in the towns I work in: BCA is a national league and you can enter any BCA tournament if your average is in the range of the specified difficulty.

You are a hermit and loser because no one in real life will put up with you. You must be tired from getting beat down for 3 weeks straight now! Pawned daily. Sounds like you are the one that should save everyone the trouble and eat sh!t and die.

The Other Jack

May 1st, 2009
2:25 pm

mara

I wrote this.

–it makes me think that you are either lying or (even worse) you honestly believe what you are being told by an extremely biased media.–

Gullible and stupid were your words, not mine. They were correct, but they were not my words. I was, in fact being diplomatic and civil, but apparently, that doesn’t matter. You have such a gigantic chip on your shoulder that civil discourse is impossible with you. No matter how nice I say it, you are going to see it as me saying that you are gullible and stupid. That sounds like your problem, not mine.

Could it be that you actually feel gullible and stupid for your beliefs? I would if I were you.

The Other Jack

May 1st, 2009
2:16 pm

UsinUK

– it carries more weight than the paltry party-apologist opinion of a camera-guy for hire. –

Nice. I’m glad I am seeing exactly how low you will go. Have a nice weekend and please be careful not to eat sh!t and die, K? You know, if you actually had an argument, your stooping to this level of trash would not be necessary.

Joke

Yea, go for that big money. $1,000 buys one second of finished animation from me. I have a little easier time than traveling to another city and having to compete for it.

My son was doing what you do when he was 9. He sold his first animation when he was ten and he built his last “hobby” computer when he was 13. He helps me out when I need it, but he hasn’t ever had to make a living being a wire rat (or groveling for pool winnings.)

JokesOn

May 1st, 2009
12:19 pm

saying that I’m either lying or I’m gillible/stupid is your version of “handling it pretty well”?!

All of TOJs name calling and insults considered, that IS handling it pretty well!

JokesOn

May 1st, 2009
12:18 pm

Off to 8ball awards ceremony and get my $$$$;)

Take care blogging buddies (and not-so-much Troofus-da-Doofus).