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April 1, 2009

"Sexting"

Posted: 12:37 PM ET

NEW YORK–“Sexting” is a new word for a new crime: kids taking cell phone pictures or videos of themselves and sending them to a friend are increasingly finding themselves accused of possessing and distributing child pornography. Kids face five or 10 years in prison in some cases, and registering as sex offenders for the rest of their lives.

In Session anchor Lisa Bloom

Have we gone mad? Sure, kids should be discouraged from doing this, mainly because once those pictures are out there, they are out there forever and can be used to humiliate them later.

But child porn laws were intended to protect kids from exploitive adults. We hand new technology to kids without educating them about the consequences of misuse, and what do we expect? Adolescents are naturally curious about their own bodies. Give them camera phones, and 20 percent are going to take nude or seminude pictures of themselves, according to one study. (The number is as high as one third for adults.)

The recession has left police without funding for rape kits and left crime labs without funding to perform DNA tests in murder cases. What a waste of resources to prosecute kids for being knuckleheaded adolescents.

Parents, please educate your kids about the misuse of technology. If they act like idiots, take away their phones and computers. They will scream, they will rant, their heads will explode, but they’ll get the message.

Prosecutors, let’s focus on real violent criminals. And let’s all remember what we did as kids. Let he who never Xeroxed his butt cast the first stone.

–Lisa Bloom, In Session anchor

Filed under: Uncategorized


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Spider   April 1st, 2009 12:43 pm ET

Lisa-

Very well written.

I will not be casting any stones. I just hope and pray that all my Xeroxes have been long since destroyed.


Arrieanna   April 1st, 2009 1:41 pm ET

I never Xeroxed my butt, does that mean I get to cast the first stone? Way before they reach their teen years children should have been prosecuted the word will get out that this type of behavior will not be tolerated.


Deb I   April 1st, 2009 1:56 pm ET

This is an easy one: if you send your stupid boyfriend a naked pic, you should lose your phone and go to a class. If someone posts your pic and sells it to the predators, then you sweetie are going to be labelled and serve some time. Passing the picture on to someone else is distribution of pornography.


C.W.   April 1st, 2009 3:40 pm ET

This is ridiculous. These kids should not have phones to begin with and if the circumstances dictate that they need a cell phone, then the parents can purchase phones without cameras. I have a 19 year old who never had a cell phone through high school. I think this is just the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. I agree that we should not waste the police and the DA’s time going after these kids. If parents would be parents then this should not happen.


Labtec   April 1st, 2009 4:14 pm ET

I will cast the first stone, I have never Xeroxed my butt!!!!!! This is ridiculous !!!!! These kids need their phones and computers taken away and the parents need their butts whipped for giving them to the kids!!! What has happened to kids in the last 10-20 years! Why do they have to be so awful. Teenagers now days are the worst kids, and the really sad part is that they are all judged upon the actions of a bunch of little punks like this!


Spider   April 1st, 2009 4:35 pm ET

Arrieanna-

Never Xeroxed your butt? Wow, either you are too old to have been around a copy machine or you've never been much fun. How about streaking? Ever do that? Heavy petting in the back seat of your boyfriend's Chevy?

Laws are different today. There are children out there that have done things as innocent as those mentioned above and are now required to register as sex offenders for the rest of their lives.

Your solution is to let them suffer forever for a small stupid mistake?
"That'll learn em!!!"

If you were as squeaky clean as you imply, then you can thank your parents or other adults for teaching you right from wrong. How about we prosecute the parents for the mistakes they have made raising these kids? Let's brand a bunch of teachers as child abusers because they didn't educate these poor chidlren.


Alawyer   April 1st, 2009 4:35 pm ET

This article is well said, but there seem to be a lot of folks who believe otherwise. Many have no idea about what the law says or what the prosecutor's duties are. The real problem here is that TV shows like "Law and Order" encourage politically minded and media savvy prosecutors to "push the envelope" on so-called crime fighting. Instead of common sense prosecutions, we have cases where people are over-charged – cluttering our court system. These sexting cases are symptomatic of a much larger problem related to the over-empowerment of prosecutors. They are not there to create law – but to enforce the law as written – and that does not mean a single-minded application of the law as it appears, but the application according to the intent of the legislature. These prosecutors are knowingly going beyond the legislative intent with the clear desire to obtain headlines and make examples out of children – to frighten other children into making better choices. Their tactics are unlikely to work – but worse, they are criminalizing people and ruining their lives – all the while knowing that the legislature never intended this result. These are not nice people. They are not good public servants. They are a national disgrace to their profession and should be censored accordingly. This week the prosecutor in PA got his hand slapped by a federal judge who likely was uneasy about interfering in the potential application of a state law – but who recognized the dire consequences of a prosecutor run amuk. This particular prosecutor, who sought to terrorize children because their pictures were sent without their consent, and who targetted girls in bathing suits and bras because of his own twisted sense of proper behavior – should have the decency to resign.


Miriam   April 1st, 2009 4:35 pm ET

I so agree with you all. My son has a phone but it does not have a camera and he does not have test messaging or internet access. This is the way it should be for irresponsible teens. Don't give them the tools to possibly ruin their lives. Hind sight is 20 20. Oops don't cut it when the pictures of their naked bodies are passed around for the world to see. I am sure that parents don't allow their teens to have playboy or playgirl but some of the pictures they take could almost qualify for these magazines. Check out the myspace pictures, there is no need for imagination as to what their birthday suits look like. Maybe the threat of some conditional juvenile probation may help but parents need to take responsibility for their kids actions. Parents wake up!!!!!!! they are only small for a while.


Wayne Deja   April 1st, 2009 5:15 pm ET

Another case where the new technoligy has caused more problems than good.Just the other day, I was talking with someone,and how different it is now than 25 or so years ago.Instead of young people out playing sports,camping,fishing on a nice day,they are sitting at home,on a computer for hours,or spending all their free time sitting on a porch on a cell phone,talking,or "sexing" their friends.Dont know if a teenager should be prosecuted with a sex crime for showing her body on a cell phone,maybe the consequences should come for them later in life,when those same pictures show up on an x rated internet site that she can try to explain away to her own children.


SemperFi Sweetheart   April 1st, 2009 5:43 pm ET

I totally agree with C.W.! Not to sound old, I'm still in my thirty-something years, but kids today are plain spoiled. Most don't have to work for anything or know the value of what is available to them. This post was very well written, Lisa. I commend you for opening my eyes to whats going on in the world with tweens+. My daughter is still only 9 but sees the influences on TV. Just about every kid has a cell phone and she's been asking me for one. I homeschool her and my son, so I asked her "who would you call?" It makes no sense to get her a phone just because she asked for it. It definately begins at home with the parents. I was put on this earth to be their momma, and so I intend to enforce all that I need to in order for me to be able to let them go when its time. When they leave our nest, I want to be able to close my eyes and know I did the very best I could for them and that I raised them to be respectful of others and especially have self respect for themselves. I don't see a cell phone in their futures as long as I homeschool and they are always within earshot of me.


Kid Friday   April 1st, 2009 6:37 pm ET

This is the greatest country on earth. Not only do we lock up over 1% of adults, but now we'll be incarcerating children – it's the best idea we've ever had to protect them. As a staunch supporter of these crackdowns I firmly believe it's safer to put small children into prison than let them have phones. Keep fighting the good fight, America. May you never rest until we are all safely secured behind bars.


John   April 1st, 2009 8:32 pm ET

This is ridiculous. Where is freedom of expression? Pornography is exploiting children. Who does these children exploit? (The unborn}


JH   April 2nd, 2009 12:01 am ET

First of all if you don't have children you shouldn't even get a vote. Secondly this is ridiculous that children are being labeled as if they were adults. Maybe in a case where the offense is repeated but children should be given the benefit of the doubt. To say a child should be labeled as a sex offender on a first offense is just as ridiculous as it would be if someone said this should be legal. We are human beings and prone to make mistakes. I suppose I am to believe that the people responsible for these laws never did anything stupid. People in this country are so ready to convict anyone for anything.


Cin   April 2nd, 2009 8:37 am ET

How is passing a naked picture of yourself to someone you trust child pornography??? If that picture gets in the wrong hands (like an adult) then that adult should be held accountable for downloading the picture. Kids will be kids, we should not be wasting money on prosecuting them for being curious about their own bodies. Sexuality is such an important part of growing up, granted some of these kids are way too young to be taking pictures of themselves, but that's where the parents need to step in. I DO NOT agree with prosecuting the children. Why should they have to register as a sex offender? That makes no sense, so someone who rapes a 5 year old would be put into the same category as someone who took a picture of their body and sent it to a boyfriend/girlfriend. That is absolutely ridiculous!!!! Our justice system is so messed up if this is where our tax dollars are going. I am disgusted. Thank you for an outstanding article, Lisa.


Genny Floyed   April 2nd, 2009 9:19 am ET

Jeez people take a chill. Yes they did something VERY stupid, but jail? Come on. Yes they should be punished for being morons. I don't buy that ya all have never done anything stupid as a teen (that fit your time period). People in glass houses should not cast stones!


Roxanne   April 2nd, 2009 12:17 pm ET

Lisa.....what a ridiculous statement to make that somehow
"new technology" is responsible for these kids taking nude
pictures of each other. I seem to remember when I was a
kid there was a thing called a "camera" that we all had access
to. But I don't remember any of my friends taking these kinds
of pictures of each other. Give me a break....let's put the
blame where it really belongs which is on the incompetent
parents that are "raising" these idiots.


jim   April 2nd, 2009 12:27 pm ET

I don't know where you live, but here in an middle class suburb of baltimore md. I see some children in 1st and 2nd grade with their own cell phones. By middle school, 6th grade, they all have one. Any child without a cell phone would be ridiculed by the rest of his or her class mates. Camera Free cells phones are almost impossible to find.

We need to teach them to be smart about text messages, "Sext messages", and the stuff they do on webcams.
Be aware that most of those small computers targeted for students do now have web cams.

Parents and educators alike need to teach the students to be prudent and forward thinking. Spend the monies that would be used to prosecute them on education. Teach them that any picture they take or send could still be floating around when they are looking for work, a scholarship or running for office.

Prosecuting them for Child Porn is a waste of resources.


Phyllis   April 2nd, 2009 2:19 pm ET

My son was 19 when he exchanged racy photos with a girl he'd met who told him she was 17. (she lied...she was a very grown up looking 12). Her family found his photo on her phone, called the police, my son went to jail for 14 months. He now has the label of "convicted felon", has to register as a sex offender, has lost his job, his fiancee, and is having extreme difficulty finding a job.

My heartburn is not only that he has to carry these labels for the rest of his life, but that the girl is still out there chasing after boys much older than she is. It's not right. My son is not a pedophile...he is not a sexual pervert...he never laid a hand on this girl. He just was stupid enough to send her a naked picture.


JasASU   April 3rd, 2009 12:54 am ET

Some kids are told what not to do with their phones, they just choose not to listen. When I started college, they told us not to take any photo that could make it harder for us to get a job and i even told my friends not to do things like this, but I still see my schoolmates having stuff like saved onto their phone. Not much we can do for todays youth, some just don't like to listen to good advice when it's offer to them.


Ron Jones   April 3rd, 2009 6:29 am ET

Seriously? Prosecute them for such stupidities? The world is changing, and we have to realize that today the stupid things that kids do are in complete correlation to the technological advancements. We can't dump this on the prosecutors to take care of. People: if you have kids, teach them BEFORE they do something stupid. It's way more efficient to prevent then punish.


Carolyn   April 3rd, 2009 10:16 am ET

Why are we shocked at the behavior of young folk? We have used sex to sell every thing from Qtips to cars. Movies use sex to gain viewers, programs on TV depend on the sex angle for ratings. Also, we watch our parents, and take cues from their behavior. Morality cannot be legislated, we either have it or we don't. Giving children everything they want isn't the way to go. Rather than be troubled raising children, parents buy them the latest gadgets to serve as babysitter. Until we start taking children back from the world, there will continue to be problems.


Trish   April 7th, 2009 5:49 pm ET

Before cell phones with cameras, before cell phones the size of portable typewriters, before telephones, kids played "I'll show you mine, you show me yours." What technology has done is made it possible to memorialize what would otherwize be a fleeting indiscretion.

That anyone would even consider using laws that were ostensibly created to protect children to prosecute children – not only for "sexting" but also prosecuting teen boys whose girlfriends are a few years younger – demonstrates that it's not about protecting kids, it's about punishing sex. And yet, no matter how much they try, the forces of puritanism never manage to stamp out sex.


flotan   April 9th, 2009 4:39 am ET

A teenager left without God's Word is like a ship without compass and rudder on the high seas.


carla bouchard   April 24th, 2009 10:01 am ET

I dont know what is going on with this student teacher thing. But I know when I was going to school teachers had respect. They knew their boundaries. Even students at the age of 16 through 18 are still kids. They are taken advantage of and its just so wrong.
Carla
Antigonish Nova Scotia


Brandy   September 7th, 2009 5:41 pm ET

Our country has destroyed our teens today. I am 59 years old and didn't have the technology these teens have today. Our biggest fear was our parents but now parents don't have rights any longer. Our system is locking up teenagers for dating teenagers for doing the same thing we did when we were younger. Mostly everything these teens are in contact with is sexual and the Government punishes THEM! Sending naked pictures of each other is the saddest thing I have heard because it shows how insecure these teens are and how badly they need attention and acceptance. There are so many laws that teens and parents don't know about because no one ever consulted those of us that are involved...the parents.

When these teens watch the news what do they see? A sick monster who got life on a bracelet for the horrible things he did and continued doing. A sex offender who is becoming a minister. A social worker at a school having sex with little boys. Priests, school bus drivers, teachers having affairs with their students, etc. etc. etc. The news is sexual, commercials, ads, etc. Sex sells everything today and the kids fall right into the trap and pay by going to jail and being labeled the rest of their lives.

Parents should be paying attention to everything today. The law says once they are 16 they are adults and can do what they want...so they do. Then when they do it they get arrested. The parents have no say in the matter when they should have everything to say and the Government should stay out of family business. Consent is consent...whether it be by parent or teen to teen. Concentrate on the adults that are sleeping with 16 year olds who are 25, 30 and up and its LEGAL! Change the laws and you change the teens of our society. Give them back to their parents and hold the parents responsible. This all makes me so angry. I am so tired of younger adults being blamed for everything.

Here is a prime example: You have a 14 year old son and you allow him to date a 17 year old girl and let the girl move in...when the girl turns 18 she breaks up with your son and he has her arrested for risk and injury to a minor. Who is the responsible one here? The girl or the parent? Well, my answer is the parent. But all over the US kids are being locked up for this. And not just teens. Birth control in middle schools, grammar school kids caught in sexual acts, the extreme violence of the younger generation.


Brandy   September 7th, 2009 9:09 pm ET

TRISH...you got it right on...but no one listens...I have been fighting this for three years and all I get is it's easier to make a law than to change it. Well, the law should have been well thought out before it was passed. Now our jails are overflowing with teens that used to have a future. For what, for doing the same exact thing we did when we were teenagers but we had parents to deal with. Like I wrote before and don't see it here...our rights as parents have been taken away with age laws which now condemn our young adults to a hell for lifetime, using Probation Officers to chase down these young kids instead of that monster that kidnapped that poor young girl at 11 and the many other horrific cases that have been on the news. It seems to me that the Probation Officers being wasted on young adult teens could be better utilized going after the real sexual predators. Parent's consent no longer matters like it used to. That is a terrible injustice within itself.


Rosi   February 16th, 2010 6:56 pm ET

People dont really understand how serious this is. It is happeneing all over the country.l My best firneds daughter just recently went through this....

Its the new bully. Teachers.....educators have know idea on how to handle this.

One situation a former friend of my niece was threatened via text and facebook pages by saying their would beating afterschool and that my niece would pay with her life. The rumor had spread to everyone at school and to the principal.....before the actual parent and my niece.

The niece was met by the vice principal after her last class and was escorted to basketball practice by the vice principal. Students who saw my niece being escorted by the vice principal could be heard asking what time the beating was going to happen? The mother was informed afterwards and when she met with the principal the following day to discuss the situation the prinicpal said.....these were only allegations.

It took a very long time for parents to become trained and educated on how to handle when a child is being bullied. This is the next level. Its faster and runs at rapid pace.

I can only hope that legislation does something soon because its a horrble abuse that many kids don't even discuss with their parents.

It devesatated my niece and watching the previews of the MTV shows just reminded me again

Principals, educators need to stop looking at these threats as simply allegations...... it needs immediate



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