While reading this article, I was all set for an amen session. Until I got to this:
In any case, it’s clear we need to change our laws to catch up with technology.
A great illustration of why change is needed now is the story of Phillip Alpert, of Orlando, Florida. He didn’t ask, but his girlfriend sexted him naked pictures of herself, according to the Orlando Sentinel. When they broke up, he mass e-mailed the photos to get back at her. Alpert, 18, was convicted of transmission of child porn and he will carry the label of “sex offender” until he is 43. He lost friends, was kicked out of school, he can’t even move in with his dad because his dad lives near a school.
Should Phillip be punished? Yes. Should the six teens in Pennsylvania face consequences? Yes. But let’s kick them off cheerleading squads and sports teams. Make them do community service and take classes on sex crimes. Educate other teens on the dangers of sexting. Pay a price, yes, but these young people shouldn’t pay for this for the rest of their lives.
And if you think this couldn’t happen to your kid, think again. Sexting is more prevalent than you think.
Mr. Galanos, with all due respect, Phillip maliciously and intentionally spread the pics his ex-girlfriend sent him privately to harm her. These kids know exactly how long-lasting the internet can be. As a result of her bad decision to take and share a picture in the first place, she will forever have to worry about those pictures resurfacing. Kicking him off a football team and making him take a class is DEFINITELY not an adequate solution.
Mr. Galanos goes on to say:
The bottom line: We need to educate, not incarcerate, our teens and it has to start with parents.Don’t let the culture indoctrinate your little boy or girl about sex before their time. So strike first as a parent. If your kids are older, let them know a digital record is for life. When little Suzie tries to win the affection of little Bobby by sexting him a picture, she is putting her future at stake. There is no control over that image or video once it gets out. But that doesn’t mean little Suzie should be charged as a child pornographer.
Education and better parenting is the solution for this new phenomenon of sexting itself. These kids need help with their self-esteem, with handling peer pressure, and with knowing how long-reaching the consequences of internet negativity can be. In the examples of the kids who are being charged with child pornography because they shared the images of themselves with people they selected and who agreed to see, child pornography is a bit much since there is no malice or intentional harm. They need to be punished but not so severely. However, when “little Bobby” or “little Suzie” decide to prank someone, seek revenge on someone, and/or intentional inflict harm on someone, by all means, they need to suffer the consequences. It is NOT at all okay to mass email someone’s pictures–that is pornography and I don’t care what age the offender is.
I liken this to those situations where an 18-year old senior is dating a 16-year old sophomore and they have consensual sex. Is it right? Maybe not. But is it a crime? Heck no. However, if either party raped the other–it is a crime, and I don’t care what age the offender is. And yes, the child label should be on it. The suffering lasts a lifetime and has all kinds of effects on the victim’s life for the long haul.
Education is needed to curb this propensity to send out naked pictures to friends or boos of the moment. But that still does not give recipients the right to forward it on later.