Mutt Media | The Daily Bone 5.6.09 | Teen Sexting

Click here for Katie Couric CBS piece on Sexting from YouTube

Last night’s episode of Law & Order SVU shed some light on a rapidly-growing occurance and one that I don’t think is going away anytime soon….teens and text messaging or as it has been coined, “Sexting”.

Sexting has received a lot of press in the last couple of months. I’m attaching here a short clip of Katie Couric covering it on CBS. Loosely defined, it is the transmission of nude or semi-nude photos using the text message or MMS feature on your cell phone or PDA. There are laws on the books that specifically prohibit the dissemination of pictures of this kind of children who are underage and authorities all over our country are using these Child Pornography laws to prosecute teenagers. The laws do not distinguish whether or not these photos are consentual in nature and currently, by the letter of these laws, teenagers can and will be prosecuted.

If convicted, they can be branded as Sex Offenders under Megan’s Law which would require these teens to register with local authorities. Information about their whereabouts can and is published for all of their community to see. This is a stigma that can follow them for the rest of their lives.

I think we can all agree that the laws in place haven’t caught up to technology. Poor judgment and decision-making are a natural part of growing up. Our children are in the (un?)fortunate position of acting as the “crash test dummies” in our new age of technology. Like it or not, they are paving the way for their children, who will, in all likelihood – be much more aware of their online image and more adept at controlling their personal information.

We are all learning that that our momentary lapses in judgment can often come back to bite us and we should really be guiding our children to guard their images carefully. No small task, to be sure. It’s a lesson in personal responsibility.

Here’s an interesting footnote – two teens in Pennsylvania have turned the tables with the help of their parents. At a slumber party they took pictures of each other in their underwear. Pennsylvania District Attorney George Skumanic Jr. offererd them a deal to help them avoid prosecution. Before agreeing to this deal, they filed suit alleging that their civil rights were being violated.

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