Sexting is new trend that may mean jail time for some teensTuesday, April 28, 2009 By Leiloni Mulligan, Class of 2009
What ever happened to the days when if you liked a boy at school, you would pass him a note in class and hope your teacher wasn’t watching you? These days, the new teenage flirting trend has gone from passing a note to sending nude or semi-nude photos from cell phone to cell phone; instead of “texting,” it's now called “sexting.” While it may be shocking, the practice of sexting is not unusual, especially for high school students around the country. Roughly about 20 percent of teens admit to participating in sexting, said a nationwide survey by the National Campaign to Support Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. Sexting has alarmed parents, school officials and prosecutors nationwide, who fear the photos could end up on the Internet or in the hands of sexual predators. In a handful of cases, authorities have resorted to what one parent called "the nuclear weapon of sex charges," child pornography. "This is a serious felony," said CBS News legal analyst Lisa Bloom, "and we cannot go around locking up 20 percent of America's teens to solve this problem." What teens don’t realize is just how serious the consequences can be. News reports are increasingly documenting legal repercussions after indecent photos appear online. Attorneys say there are many unanswered questions about whether young people who send their own photos could face prosecution for obscenity or child pornography. The dangerous combination of teenagers behaving provocatively and impulsively is not new, but the accessibility to the technology is. With cell phone cameras, they have been handed a tool so easy to use for some it's impossible to pass up; and in this social networking world that we live in, it easily spreads like a wildfire. Just recently, three teenage girls who allegedly sent nude or semi-nude cell phone pictures of themselves to three male classmates in a Western Pennsylvania high school, and the boys are now being charged with child pornography. This year in Wisconsin, a 17 year-old was charged with possessing child pornography after he posted naked pictures of his 16-year-old ex-girlfriend online. In Alabama, authorities arrested four middle-school students for exchanging nude photos of themselves; and in Rochester, N.Y., a 16-year-old boy is now facing up to seven years in prison for forwarding a nude photo of a 15-year-old girlfriend to his friends. When these laws were written, they were supposed to be meant for the older pedophile collecting pictures of young children, but now these high school students are getting swept up in these charges. The question becomes: S hould these students be faced with these harsh consequences? CHS social studies teacher Leanne Havely said that charging these young children with felonies is just a little too farfetched. She also said that the girls who are being promiscuous should be to blame, and if they don’t want their body out for the world to see, they shouldn’t be sending those kinds of pictures to people.