Law Enforcement Has Officially Gone Insane: Teen Sexting as Child Porn

Posted on July 11, 2014

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Teens experimenting with their budding sexual urges is normal. Cops giving a 17-year-old boy an erection against his will and then photographing it as “evidence” is just SICK.

 

By now most of us are aware of “sexting,” that indiscreet practice of sending nude or partly nude photos of oneself to one’s love interest.   As we have written before, we think that in a day of instantaneous and prolific communication, it is inadvisable and indeed, nude photos too often haunt the subject when relationships go sour.

When a minor takes a nude self-portrait, however, sexting has a much more serious pitfall than embarrassment: the image can be considered child pornography, with all of the attendant consequences for anyone who had anything to do with possessing or sending (“distributing”) the photo.   So Suzy took a nude pic of herself for her boyfriend, then later he gets angry for some reason and forwards it to all of their mutual friends? It is completely possible that the friends are now in possession of child porn, the boyfriend can be charged with distributing it, and the girl who took her own picture can be charged with production of child porn.

A long shot, you may think. Ha! It has happened more than it should have. Check out this 2008 article from the Seattle Times, which details several cases of teen impetuousness (like that never happens) that landed boys on sex-offender databases or in jail. One 15-year-old girl was charged with creating child pornography for images of herself.

And that’s just what happened to a 17-year-old boy right here in Northern Virginia: he sexted a video of himself to a 15-year-old girl; the girl’s mother angrily called police over the matter; charges of producing child pornography were brought, and now the police have a warrant to take pictures of his erect penis as “evidence” in the case.

Um. So let me rephrase: the police want to take pictures of a 17-year-old’s erect penis, medically forcing the erection if necessary.

Have we all officially gone Puritan-grade insane?

Never was there more convoluted logic: the boy is a minor, so pictures of his naked, erect penis are child porn even if he took those pictures himself, so law enforcement needs to take pictures of his naked, erect penis.

That’s a tactic I could understand in, say, a rape case where the rapist wore a mask but had a weird mole or something that the victim could identify. It’s NOT a valid tactic in a case of hormone-related teen stupidity.

The police are defending their actions by saying this boy continued to send such images to the girl after being told repeatedly to stop. Fine, then charge him with harassment, suspend him from school, get him some counseling. Possible jail time, and putting him on a sex-offender database possibly for life, seems a bit over-zealous.  And that whole thing about photographing his parts?  Sick.

Teen sexting is actually pretty rampant; the Seattle Times article seems to indicate that roughly 20% of teens admit to it (sometimes with unexpected results). I suspect they see it as just a variation on the ubiquitous “selfies” that everyone takes these days.  I’m certainly not in favor of it and think it’s a stupid thing to do, but it’s the practically inevitable result of the mix of teens, hormones, an over-sexed culture, and a video-capable cellphone in everyone’s hand.  It does not rise to the level of a crime, in my opinion, until someone does something malicious with the images.

Child pornography laws were drafted to protect children, not to turn them into lifelong pariahs over some stupid thing they did in their misspent youth.

 

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