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Because there weren't enough problems with our sex offender laws
March 26, 2009 1:12 PM   Subscribe

"Sexting": a disturbing new teenage trend.
posted by Caduceus (129 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
Prosecuting teenagers for being teenagers: A disturbing but age-old law enforcement trend
posted by dersins at 1:14 PM on March 26, 2009 [45 favorites]


Teenagers experiment with/explore their bodies (by themselves or with others). EVERYBODY PANIC!
posted by yiftach at 1:15 PM on March 26, 2009 [5 favorites]


Man, I hate that word SO MUCH. And I hate that local news has to use it, and then explain it. But I guess it gives local news something to do.
posted by graventy at 1:15 PM on March 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I realized I needed to make an addendum stating "more disturbing in the legal ramifications than in the trend itself." Though maybe my post title accomplished that.
posted by Caduceus at 1:15 PM on March 26, 2009


oh those teens and their sex
posted by TrialByMedia at 1:16 PM on March 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Disturbing in that it's completely made up.
posted by parmanparman at 1:17 PM on March 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


At first I thought this was going to be the new greenlighting or rainbow party.
posted by dunkadunc at 1:18 PM on March 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


Then they decided just for fun to take a shower, and they put the cameras up on the mirror and took a side-profile picture of themselves naked.

That's just like it happens in all the movies!

Seriously, though, is this something girls do? Randomly take showers with each other?
posted by graventy at 1:18 PM on March 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


So do they sext before or after hooking up at rainbow parties?
posted by PenDevil at 1:18 PM on March 26, 2009 [7 favorites]


Back in my day, teens who wanted to do this had to use Polaroid cameras. And the malefactors had to make photocopies of the pictures and tape them up all over the halls.

By gad, technology makes everything easier.
posted by Spatch at 1:18 PM on March 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


If a minor takes a naked photo of himself, he or she is a child pornographer. It therefore follows that if a child masturbates, he or she is a child rapist.

We're going to need a bigger database.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:19 PM on March 26, 2009 [81 favorites]


Disturbing in that it's completely made up.

Yeah, a big part of me suspects this is going to turn out a lot like that retarded OMG BRACELETS! virus that infected local TV news for awhile there.
posted by dersins at 1:20 PM on March 26, 2009


Moral panic is almost always an expression of something else, usually something people don't want to discuss directly.

I'd guess, in this instance, its basically a cover for the fact that no one wants to discuss sex and children in anything remotely resembling a realistic way.
posted by sotonohito at 1:21 PM on March 26, 2009 [13 favorites]


[cite]
posted by dersins at 1:21 PM on March 26, 2009


Well, it's certainly disturbing that these kids are being prosecuted for send each other pictures of themselves. Especially given that they might have to register as sex offenders, even if they plea to a lesser charge. And with more and more states requiring registration for sex offenders even for people who offended under age, it means these girls, and the guys they sent the pictures too could end up being marked for life.

So yeah, I'd say that's pretty disturbing. Apparently The ACLU is getting involved

That said, I'm not exactly sure what's supposed to be disturbing about teens sending each other nude cellphone pics.
posted by delmoi at 1:21 PM on March 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


If a minor takes a naked photo of himself, he or she is a child pornographer. It therefore follows that if a child masturbates, he or she is a child rapist.

We're going to need a bigger database.


I think mirrors make them all pedophiles.
posted by graventy at 1:22 PM on March 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


Anonymously send PDFs by email to the local prosecutors/cops/judges with naughty images buried deep in large amounts of boring legal text. Anonymously notify their enemies that these people are in possession of X type of porn.

Or send images to their phones. They won't know they have the images until they download. Whether or not they delete them is irrelevant, it can be proved that they had downloaded the images, and are therefore subject to prosecution.

Obviously, the problem stems from kids who unwittingly commit a criminal act, the legal framework of which is based on obsolete technology. The solution is to make the persecutors victims of their own zeal.

The law will come around, eventually.
posted by Xoebe at 1:22 PM on March 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I note that this first Wiki reference citation is for a broadcast item from WCAX - your local Vermont News, Weather and sport.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 1:23 PM on March 26, 2009


"They sat me down at the table and they said, 'We have pictures of your daughter and another girl naked, do you want to see them?' "

I suppose it would depend on what they were charging.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:23 PM on March 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


Nothing better than made up hysteria. Is there any reason American news is particularly stupid?
posted by chunking express at 1:28 PM on March 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Doesn't work out too well for volleyball coaches either.
posted by dead cousin ted at 1:29 PM on March 26, 2009


It therefore follows that if a child masturbates, he or she is a child rapist.

Remember when they just used to call it "self-abuse"? And even then the term was considered a Victorianism? Clearly we are going backward.
posted by jonp72 at 1:33 PM on March 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


Oh, the moral panic will skyrocket once this moves to twitter! (But what should we call it? "Titter"? Let me preemptively say no to "twatter.")
posted by naju at 1:34 PM on March 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Great, now I've got Teenage Kicks stuck in my head.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:34 PM on March 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


So do they sext before or after hooking up at rainbow parties?

Before the rainbow parties but after they get hopped up on jenkem.
posted by Krrrlson at 1:35 PM on March 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


It's only disturbing if you stand to be prosecuted for participating.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 1:38 PM on March 26, 2009


From the Salon article: It also exhibits a self-portrait she took with a cellphone camera of her reflection in a floor-length mirror; the sassy expression on her face matches the page's background: a sexy hot pink and lime green leopard print.

To whom is a hot pink and lime green leopard print pattern sexy? What does that even mean?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 1:39 PM on March 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


Things have certainly changed since I was a teenager. Yeah, when I was a teenager, we never thought about sex! No, we were too busy playing duck-on-a-rock and mumbly-peg, and studying, and going to the malt shop, and frantically looking at tits and whacking -- uhm *cough* Carry on.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 1:39 PM on March 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


Come on, didn't we all do this in our teens? I mean, the technology wasn't there in the 80s like it is now, but I distinctly remember descriving a photo of myself naked over a rotary phone to my friend's police sketch artist, who represented my description as besy he could, and then we put my friend on with my police sketch artist, and she described a naked photo of herself.

Sure, it was more work, but it felt naughtier, somehow.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:40 PM on March 26, 2009 [17 favorites]


Why is the word a play on "texting" if they're sending images? Shouldn't it be something else like, I dunno, MMmmmmmSing?
posted by bondcliff at 1:43 PM on March 26, 2009


I'd be more alarmed at these kids' appalling lack of information security practices than any tawdry pictures. What the hell are they teaching in schools these days? Algebra?
posted by Burhanistan at 1:44 PM on March 26, 2009 [11 favorites]


They are going to solve this problem just like they solved the pit bull problem. And black tar. Remember when pit bulls and black tar were taking over, and local news saved us? This is going to go like that.
posted by dirtdirt at 1:44 PM on March 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


I've been trying to combine some form of "sex" and "talking" for minutes to no avail. Need help; must market this panic to the sextreme.
posted by pokermonk at 1:44 PM on March 26, 2009


"Obviously, the problem stems from kids who unwittingly commit a criminal act, the legal framework of which is based on obsolete technology."

Yep. How someone expects the law to work adequately divorced from the realities of the environment in which it operates boggles my mind. Teens having sex has always existed. If the Romans had cell phones they'd be doing this. Instead they came up with valentine's day. Which seems just as object fixated as this really.
So perhaps the problem is that Hallmark et.al can't chisel in on this to sell geegaws.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:44 PM on March 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Thora Birch exposes her breasts when she's 17. She gets accolades for appearing in an Oscar winning movie. Teenage "Jane Doe" has a photo with her breasts exposed. She gets threatened with prosecution as a sex offender. This is progress?
posted by jonp72 at 1:44 PM on March 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


When I was in high school, I worked on the school newspaper as a photographer. One day, this hot girl gave him a roll of film to develop, full of naughty pictures she'd taken of herself. He was discreet about it, but of course everyone in the darkroom got a good look as the pictures sat around in the fixer.

So, I guess that makes us all child pornographers? Where do I go to get my ankle tracking bracelet?
posted by heathkit at 1:46 PM on March 26, 2009


I'm beginning to suspect the motive behind many of these lawmakers' attempts to criminalize all sex acts between consenting minors might be less about "Protecting Our Children" and more about "If I can't look at dirty nekkid pictures of nubile 15 year-olds, then—by god—nobody can!"
posted by Atom Eyes at 1:48 PM on March 26, 2009


I'd be more alarmed at these kids' appalling lack of information security practices than any tawdry pictures. What the hell are they teaching in schools these days? Algebra?

This. The prosecutions are stupid, but the other aspect of this is that the kids are doing something pretty stupid, too. Not because, "naught picutres are bad", but because "naughty pictures can get on the internet really easy these days."
posted by cimbrog at 1:49 PM on March 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


Photos of popped collars? Total fashion faux pas. Those kids will be the equivalent of the grunge-era plaid and tie-dye joke of the 2010s.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:50 PM on March 26, 2009


From the first NPR link: There's a name for what happened. It's called "sexting," where teenagers send nude or partially nude photos to one another. And 1 in 5 teens does it, according to Bill Alpert of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.

I would totally believe that 1 in 5 statistic if you define "partially nude" as not wearing a cravat or saucy hat.
posted by peeedro at 1:50 PM on March 26, 2009 [5 favorites]


Can I get a copy of that in Rich Sext Format instead of Hypersext Markup Language? Thanks.
posted by Ratio at 1:51 PM on March 26, 2009 [14 favorites]


And wet dreams are therefore rape, because there is no consent. Might as well be rohypnol, as you were asleep when it happened. Remember kids, it's perfectly natural to feel curious about your bodies. Natural but illegal, you child-pornographer sex-offender scum.
posted by Bernt Pancreas at 1:51 PM on March 26, 2009 [5 favorites]


same old, same old
posted by nam3d at 1:54 PM on March 26, 2009


Nothing better than made up hysteria. Is there any reason American news is particularly stupid?

Yes - $$$ Reality is boring and doesn't make for great ratings.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 1:55 PM on March 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


By the way, I found that the District Attorney's Democratic challenger is a guy named Jeff Mitchell. The guy doesn't appear to have a campaign web site. Anybody out there want to build one for him? He could get some serious Internet campaign contributions coming in.
posted by jonp72 at 1:56 PM on March 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I hope the authorities come up with a well thought out plan to stop this madness, such as making cell phones illegal for anyone under 18 or scanning and profiling all MMS traffic. Or banning nakedness.
posted by bondcliff at 1:56 PM on March 26, 2009


Note to self: DO NOT BORROW THE KID'S PHONES.

Not because, "naught picutres are bad", but because "naughty pictures can get on the internet really easy these days."

Asking teenagers to think ahead and think of consequences doesn't really work.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:57 PM on March 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I miss the good old days when the biggest risk to one's children was satanic ritual abuse.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:59 PM on March 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


So it is not an epidemic?
posted by johannahdeschanel at 1:59 PM on March 26, 2009


I'm totally expecting cell phone cameras to soon have a mandated blurring/mosaic-ing feature somewhat akin to face recognition.
posted by MysticMCJ at 1:59 PM on March 26, 2009


To whom is a hot pink and lime green leopard print pattern sexy?

A teenage girl, I'm assuming.

Well, a teenage boy too, but from what I understand a teenage boy would find linoleum sexy.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:00 PM on March 26, 2009 [9 favorites]


Asking teenagers to think ahead and think of consequences doesn't really work.

Doesn't really work for most adults either.
posted by ZeroAmbition at 2:00 PM on March 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, they should blur everyone's face.
posted by GuyZero at 2:01 PM on March 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh, I'm laughing at this now, but watch, in ten years when my daughters are letting their holograms get down and dirty, I'll be the first one flipping the fuck out.
posted by padraigin at 2:02 PM on March 26, 2009 [9 favorites]


The prosecutions are stupid, but the other aspect of this is that the kids are doing something pretty stupid, too. Not because, "naught picutres are bad", but because "naughty pictures can get on the internet really easy these days."

And those pictures, taken without any commercial intent, are increasingly aggregrated and monetized by amateur porn sites. It represents a major threat to traditional porn, both in its marketing model and the lack of overhead costs related to recordkeeping requirements.
posted by werkzeuger at 2:03 PM on March 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, ignoring for the moment that "sex offender" sounds like something straight out of 1984, and ignoring for the moment that the term makes absolutely no distinction between a baby rapist and a teenage girl who thought it would be a good idea to take photos of her own boobs...

Historically, teenagers (and, really, a lot of humans in general) have not recognized that their actions as teenagers can come back to haunt them down the line. This explains everything from bad tattoos to sleeping in health ed class when they explain that a girl can get pregnant even if the guy pulls out.

Not only is technology outstripping the law, technology is outstripping parents ability to give their kids sound advice on using that technology. This has kind of how its always been, too. That said, while I don't think teenagers should be prosecuted for dabbling in amateur art photography, I do think that adults should take every opportunity they can to remind kids that once you send something out into the world digitally, it is out there forever.

You can be that chick from High School the Musical sending nude photos to your boyfriend or the Star Wars kid making a digital video for your own personal use, but the minute its in a digital medium, it could be seen by the whole world. Or, worse, on local news.

However, even if we tell kids this all the fricken' time, some are still going to take photos and videos of themselves (or each other) and inadvertently make them available to the world. Those kids are going to be humiliated. As responsible adults, we have many ways that we can respond to this. We can compound that humiliation, prosecute them for it, or maybe we can use it as an opportunity to do something positive for the kid - like remind them that the Internet is Forever without making it seem like we're saying "I told you so."

But, nah, let's stigmatize them for life and make it difficult for them to get jobs or live in most neighborhoods without being harassed because, you know, its only one tiny little step from taking pictures of your side-boobs to raping a fetus.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:03 PM on March 26, 2009 [13 favorites]


Asking teenagers to think ahead and think of consequences doesn't really work.

Agreed. Didn't say we could do anything about it. Its just that technology increases the production of stupidity by kids an average of 47.42% every 18 months*. Some theorize that the increasing power of stupidity will reach a point where it takes on a sentience of its own and brings an end to mankind's rule on this earth**.

* I made this up.
** I made this up, too.

posted by cimbrog at 2:05 PM on March 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also "sexting" is an asinine word. My high school students were totally unaware such a thing existed as of a month ago. They were aware that sending naked pictures to each other was possible, but they just call it "sending naked pictures to each other."
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:05 PM on March 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


From the first NPR link: There's a name for what happened. It's called "sexting," where teenagers send nude or partially nude photos to one another. And 1 in 5 teens does it, according to Bill Alpert of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.

Gah, I expect this from mainstream TV news, but I would hope NPR would have slightly higher standards.

The study in question was co-sponsored by Cosmo Girl magazine and conducted by a market research company from a self-selected pool of volunteers. So in other words, they're making generalized claims about an entire population based on a non-probability sample.

FAIL.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 2:07 PM on March 26, 2009 [10 favorites]


Simple solution: Ban clothing.

When nudity is no longer taboo, then we won't freak out over it.
posted by zarq at 2:07 PM on March 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


As for the pix getting onto the net, yeah, they will. And, yes, as others have pointed out teenagers aren't exactly good at considering consiquences. This means that, by 2050 it will likely be possible to use google (or whatever they're using then) to find pictures of pretty much anyone born in the first world after 2009 naked. I suspect that civilization will survive.

EmpressCallipygos wrote but from what I understand a teenage boy would find linoleum sexy.

Not so much sexy as fappable. Having once been a teenage boy I can assure you that if nothing else is available a typical teenage boy could find the Canadian national anthem fappable.

Having spoken with several people who were once teenage girls, I understand that it isn't quite so bad for ya'll that way.
posted by sotonohito at 2:10 PM on March 26, 2009


Yeah, kids have always done whatever experimentation the technology would allow. This is nothing new. (Still, I'd be curious to see if anyone can prove that the Nielsons of suburban Seattle actually exist; this could just be a Stephen Glass thing.) The more disturbing things are (1) the legal ramifications and (2) the cavalier way that these kids are tossing the images around, apparently.

I can almost - but not quite - understand where the prosecutors are coming from on the first part of this. If there's a loophole on the creation of kiddie-porn that allows the kids to make it themselves, then it will take roughly half an instant for non-minors to start manipulating that loophole. This isn't the solution, but at least the legal rationale isn't coming from "OMG teh kidz n teh sexx!" but rather from keeping children and teens from being sexually exploited. Thankfully judges tend to be a bit more level-headed about this sort of thing than prosecutors are and this should all blow over fairly quickly.

The second problem is one of kids being just monumentally stupid, though, rather than having any moral element to it. Seriously, you'd not think twice about sending a damn nudie picture of yourself to a group of sex-crazed people who know who you are, some of whom are bound to have reasons of their own to want to fuck you over? What that fuck is the upside there? How come you kids are so GOD DAMNED stupid and just do the stupidest thing possible EVERY SINGLE SECOND OF THE GODDAMNED DAY!

Okay I'm done now.
posted by Navelgazer at 2:10 PM on March 26, 2009


Disturbing in that it's completely made up.

1 in 5 sounds like a huge exaggeration, but it's definitely not made up. A good portion of 4chan and related internet cesspools are basically dedicated to collecting these (mostly illegal) videos.

It really shouldn't surprise anyone that this happens. Teens explore their sexuality and seriously lack good judgement, and cell phone cameras are everywhere. Hell, my high school girlfriend and I took pictures -- and we developed it at a 1 hour photo. I guess the both of us should be registered sex offenders, eh?

So much hysteria.

That said, when I face the dreaded birds and bees talk with my daughter I do plan to include a bit about cameras. "When he tells you the pictures are just for him, please trust me when I say he's probably lying or doesn't know enough to keep them private". A conversation I am really not looking forward to, ugh.
posted by malphigian at 2:11 PM on March 26, 2009


Aldus Huxley got it right: In his Brave New World, he referred to "children playing sex games, as long as it was in the bushes." Sex, as we all know, is necessary, but our society still finds it awkward.
posted by captainsohler at 2:17 PM on March 26, 2009


...High School the Musical...

This makes my day. I don't exactly know why.
posted by Navelgazer at 2:18 PM on March 26, 2009


Next step:

open a site and call it AssBook...invite the sexters to post themselves and their friends and watch the site grow and grow...who needs FaceLift or FaceBook or whatever that busy site is called.
posted by Postroad at 2:19 PM on March 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Aw, I kept hearing about this and thinking kids were sending erotic text messages to each other. I mean, at least then they would be reading and writing.

Obviously the way to stamp this out is for everyone's parents to start doing it, to make it uncool. Just like [your favorite social app].
posted by JoanArkham at 2:22 PM on March 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


And still, my iPhone can't do multimedia text messaging. SEE WHAT I'VE BEEN MISSING????

Thankfully, v3.0 fixes this.
posted by LordSludge at 2:23 PM on March 26, 2009


Navelgazer: ...High School the Musical...

This makes my day. I don't exactly know why.


Egads, amusing that I spelled it like that, but embarrassing, too. That is one phrase that I should be able to get right.

/derail
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:28 PM on March 26, 2009


"When he tells you the pictures are just for him, please trust me when I say he's probably lying or doesn't know enough to keep them private"

Why assume that your daughter is heterosexual?
posted by Saxon Kane at 2:31 PM on March 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


This thread is useless -- no, I can't do it.
posted by alby at 2:31 PM on March 26, 2009 [5 favorites]


I trashed the stupidest op-ed I've ever read (and that's saying something: I write about drug policy!) here. The woman supported harshly prosecuting kids for this as a deterrent-- because kids don't think about consequences!!!!!!!!!!!
posted by Maias at 2:32 PM on March 26, 2009 [5 favorites]


Having once been a teenage boy I can assure you that if nothing else is available a typical teenage boy could find the Canadian national anthem fappable.

With glowing hearts, we see thee rise?
posted by stinkycheese at 2:32 PM on March 26, 2009 [5 favorites]


Seriously, though, is this something girls do? Randomly take showers with each other?

Oh god, I hope so.
posted by Saxon Kane at 2:33 PM on March 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


Shouldn't they be using some thing other than texting as the root word here? You can't text a photo, that doesn't make any sense! It like faxing someone an e-mail.
posted by mge at 2:35 PM on March 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


From the 1st article: And for now, they're responding in wildly different ways, with everything from felony charges to educational assemblies on the dangers of the Internet.

Yup. Felony charges and educational assemblies. What social problems haven't those 2 approaches fixed?
posted by selfmedicating at 2:37 PM on March 26, 2009 [8 favorites]


Yup. Felony charges and educational assemblies. What social problems haven't those 2 approaches fixed?

All of them?
posted by Caduceus at 2:42 PM on March 26, 2009


Jesus, stinkycheese, some of us are at work here!
posted by ODiV at 2:42 PM on March 26, 2009


You can't text a photo, that doesn't make any sense! It like faxing someone an e-mail.

My hand to God two weeks ago I got an order mailed to me that was a printout of an email someone wrote. As in, she opened up Outlook, wrote an email, printed it out and stuck it in the snail mailbox. And presumably deleted the email.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:46 PM on March 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I propose "MMSmut". (Because it sounds like, "Mm-mm, smut! deee-licious!")
posted by hattifattener at 2:46 PM on March 26, 2009


This means that, by 2050 it will likely be possible to use google (or whatever they're using then) to find pictures of pretty much anyone born in the first world after 2009 naked.

In fact, it may make online dating a whole helluva lot easier.
posted by jonp72 at 2:48 PM on March 26, 2009


Can we just eat all the children already?
posted by swift at 2:49 PM on March 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


You can't text a photo, that doesn't make any sense! It like faxing someone an e-mail.

MMS
posted by Burhanistan at 2:50 PM on March 26, 2009


I can.

This thread is useless without pics.
posted by snofoam at 2:57 PM on March 26, 2009


Can we just eat all the children already?
posted by swift at 5:49 PM on March 26


Oh, that's your answer to everything.
posted by turaho at 2:57 PM on March 26, 2009 [15 favorites]


oh, wait.

this thread is useless without sexts.
posted by snofoam at 2:59 PM on March 26, 2009


In the Wired article about the case the ACLU is involved in, it mentions the prosecutor refused to supply the photos to the defense. The photos the whole case is based on. Why? Because that would be distributing child porn.*

Is it just me or does this curiously echo the "national security" defense invoked in the warrantless wiretap issue? Not permitting the defense to see the evidence seems monstrous.

*Of course this is the prosecutor that considers a self-shot, waist-up picture of a girl in an "opaque bra" to be child porn.
posted by werkzeuger at 3:00 PM on March 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


1. this is not new

2. "fappable" is a word that should be banned forever

3. Get off my lawn
posted by HuronBob at 3:03 PM on March 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


If I were a kid nowadays, I would not be receiving any of these sext messages.

This really bums me out.
posted by orme at 3:18 PM on March 26, 2009 [7 favorites]


Disturbing in that it's completely made up.

Man, what are you talking about? I may be too high on jenkem to understand you correctly, but are you trying to tell me that the news media will take any wacky bullshit a kid might do, no matter how isolated or whether or not it's obviously made up, and report that it's a widespread phenomenon that every kid is doing everywhere? I don't have time to listen to that kind of crap. I'm going to put on a red jelly bracelet in order to advertise that I want anal sex instead.
posted by DecemberBoy at 3:19 PM on March 26, 2009


This thread is useless without pics.

I believe the preferred vernacular is "Pics or it didn't happen."
posted by Caduceus at 3:22 PM on March 26, 2009


From what I remember about being a teenager, the minute your parents find out about something, it's time to roll your eyes and start doing something new because it's SO UNCOOL now.

Maybe now they'll go low-tech and take nudie pics with ACTUAL CAMERAS. Who knows.

Also, when I was a teenager, I photocopied my boobs & butt for no discernible reason other than there was a photocopier and I was bored. Like Everest - it was there.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:28 PM on March 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Prosecutors who pursue cases like these are going to end up being virtual accessories to rape:

An 18-year-old male student is under investigation for allegedly posing as a girl and coercing [the author meant luring] former male classmates to send him nude photographs.

A former student of Wisconsin’s New Berlin Eisenhower Middle/High School, Anthony R. Stanci is accused of then using those photos as leverage and blackmailing some of the boys into performing sexual acts by threatening to release the photos.

Stanci allegedly convinced at least 31 students to send him nude photographs. All of the students attend school at New Berlin Eisenhower.
[ Sorry for the poor quality of this link; I had a hard time finding a better version of this story on a respectable site. If anybody can do better, I'd appreciate it.]

How long do you think it will be before boys and adult men start using threats to turn over sexting photographs to prosecutors to force boys and girls into sex acts?
posted by jamjam at 3:29 PM on March 26, 2009 [5 favorites]


I'd guess, in this instance, its basically a cover for the fact that no one wants to discuss sex and children in anything remotely resembling a realistic way.

I want to discuss that, but I'm only an actual parent, not a local TV news anchor or a politician. I care more about my kids' well-being than about ratings or re-election.

Not only is technology outstripping the law, technology is outstripping parents ability to give their kids sound advice on using that technology. This has kind of how its always been, too. That said, while I don't think teenagers should be prosecuted for dabbling in amateur art photography, I do think that adults should take every opportunity they can to remind kids that once you send something out into the world digitally, it is out there forever.

This. There's no lightswitch that turns a child into an adult, it's a gradual (and presumably never-ending) process of gaining experience and gaining the cognitive capacity to cope with the modern world. Writing laws into the books that punish a kid who drives drunk isn't likely to be any more effective than the limited training on the subject they get now. Instead, you have to work early to educate your children before they get to the point that they're suspicious of what you teach; what works for religion can work in your favor for preventing drug abuse, reckless driving, and other dangerous behavior.

Having said that: it would be a lot easier for parents if we could concentrate more on the truly harmful stuff (ie the ones with real physical consequences, like drunk driving, getting pregnant, and so on) without being distracted by problems that exist mostly in other people's minds. Having to teach my kids that taking a nude picture of themselves might not just be a bad idea generally, but might also get them arrested, is a distraction from the important stuff. Frankly, I resent it.
posted by davejay at 3:29 PM on March 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


It's like faxing someone an e-mail.

Hey, maybe call it "fuxing"?
posted by Jody Tresidder at 3:36 PM on March 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


That Jesse Logan story at the msnbc link is sad. I guess it's more of a bullying story than anything, but it is still sad. Also attending the funeral of a friend, you can guess that she probably saw a way to make it all stop.
posted by cashman at 3:37 PM on March 26, 2009


I actually hope it's a lot more than 1 in 5. I hope it's everybody, and it all ends up on the internet. Because the first day every single person has a naked picture somewhere online will probably be the first day that all my friends get to stop worrying that they will be fired as a result of their naked online pictures. The people who care whether or not you have nudie pics online are the idiots, not the ones participating in the safest sex around.
posted by kyrademon at 3:37 PM on March 26, 2009


I wish teenagers would just stick with binge drinking and school shootings, like normal.

But the world sure has come a long way since teenagers were telegramming one another:

HAVE HAD TWO MIDORIS WITH LEMONADE STOP WEARING ONLY MY BRA AND PANTIES NOW STOP SO HOT FOR YOU STOP
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:47 PM on March 26, 2009 [9 favorites]


So "You show me yours and I'll show you mine" is a crime if it's done while the people involved are a thousand miles away, but perfectly okay if you're within five feet? Well gee, that makes total sense.

I spent a few months in juvenile detention back in the early 80s and I gotta say, I would've been a lot happier if the place had been full of ex-naked-teenagers instead of the motley assortment of vandals, thugs, carjackers, robbers, rapists and murderers that were there when I was. (My horrible crime was being 'incorrigible' -- woo, gangsta.)
posted by jamstigator at 3:49 PM on March 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


Wait, let me get this straight. If this is correct in this new world that we suddenly find ourselves in, suicide is murder and you need to get written consent from yourself before you masturbate but only when you're over 18 so you don't run this risk of being a pedophile? Seeing as they enable you to do all the above activities, I vote that we ban hands:

"Guns don't kill people, hands kill people"

"My hands made me do it!"

Hands, bad for you, bad for America.

This message brought to you from the National Organization for Blame Laying in America (NOBLAME)
posted by ob at 3:59 PM on March 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


My horrible crime was being 'incorrigible'

Who sent you to juve for being incorrigible, Mary Worth?
posted by 235w103 at 4:10 PM on March 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


You know what?
Child pornography laws are supposed to stop child abuse- not people willingly sending each other their naked pictures. The real problem going on here is the harassment.

Possession of these pictures doesn't automatically make you a pervert. When I was seventeen, I thought seeing my girlfriend naked was awesome, and there isn't anything wrong with that.
Even if they do theoretically make their way into the hands of some basement-dwelling 4channer, the problem is that harassment and embarrassment could come out of it- not that the photographer and whoever they sent the picture to are child pornographers.
posted by dunkadunc at 4:15 PM on March 26, 2009


I made sure to talk to my son about pictures when he was in high school. Even if his girlfriend photographed herself and emailed him the photo, it could create a world of trouble. Stupid pictures taken years ago will keep surfacing. Just ask Michael Phelps.

As the parent of a kid who loved texting way too much($$), I wished I could have better control over my son's phone usage. Parents are supposed to help their kids limit their completely idiotic behavior.
posted by theora55 at 4:19 PM on March 26, 2009


Not only is technology outstripping the law, technology is outstripping parents ability to give their kids sound advice on using that technology.

When I was a kid, I accessed porn in the woods, at the barber shop, at the Chinese corner store, or at my friend's house (his mother was a "major" in the Salvation Army; his father collected Hustler magazines and kept them on the coffee table in the living room... hunh?).

While it might seem like there was a lot of porn out there for me to get my hands on (and there was), you had to work at it.

Now, my son will be able to access porn on a laptop or a mobile device or whatever, at any time, and then there's the entire issue of online communities and cyber-bullying and all sorts of weirdos.

I know part of this is just a case of contemporary moral panic (think: rainbow parties), and that I could just lock down our home computers, but that's not always realistic. It's strange being a parent these days, although I wonder if the Internet really has changed things all that much, or if it is just our perception.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:29 PM on March 26, 2009


"They sat me down at the table and they said, 'We have pictures of your daughter and another girl naked, do you want to see them?' "

I suppose it would depend on what they were charging.
posted by Joe Beese


I gotta admit, it would be pretty funny if they had said 'yes' and then were immediately arrested for looking at dirty pedo pictures. It's a trap!
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 4:29 PM on March 26, 2009


Are lots of teens "sexting"? Experts doubt it.
posted by klangklangston at 5:14 PM on March 26, 2009


My hand to God two weeks ago I got an order mailed to me that was a printout of an email someone wrote. As in, she opened up Outlook, wrote an email, printed it out and stuck it in the snail mailbox. And presumably deleted the email.

Maybe now they'll go low-tech and take nudie pics with ACTUAL CAMERAS.

One of my professor's grandchildren had a brilliant idea the other day: people are always losing track of their home phones -- you take it outside, in the bathroom, the living room, it gets stuck between the sofa cushions. . . so why not make a phone with a CORD on it that attaches to the base? Brilliant!
posted by Saxon Kane at 5:18 PM on March 26, 2009 [5 favorites]


It's interesting that the term NEUROSIS isn't used in psychiatry anymore, neither is HYSTERIA.
posted by Mr.S at 5:30 PM on March 26, 2009


it's like FOOTLOOSE but with cell phones ... and no music or dancing :P
posted by liza at 5:32 PM on March 26, 2009


Yeah, I propose "MMSmut". (Because it sounds like, "Mm-mm, smut! deee-licious!")

Sounds like the perfect title for Hanson's potential comeback single.

MMM-SMUT! Bop ba-doo smut...

Ba duba dop ba do. Oh yeah...

posted by spoobnooble at 5:37 PM on March 26, 2009


When I was a kid, I accessed porn in the woods

I did this as well, and apparently so did a lot of people my age. It was only later in life that I thought to question why there was used porn in the woods for me to find in the first place. Did people used to buy a porno mag, go into the woods, jerk off in the woods, and discard the porn? They must have, unless the used porno fairy was leaving it there like some kind of twisted Easter bunny, but why? Why couldn't they just take it home and beat off to it?

I once traded my old IBM XT computer (in 1993 or so, so it was pretty obsolete) for a stack of porno mags illicitly procured from the recipient's father's extensive porn library, plus $20. It was 70s-era porn too, from that hairy and doughy era before porn queens discovered the Brazilian wax. Being at the age when one could get aroused by a newspaper department store ad, obtaining that stack of crappy old pornos was like being given a piece of the True Cross. Kids today don't know how good they've got it.
posted by DecemberBoy at 5:58 PM on March 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


You know how, sometimes people whack it to porn on their computer, and then feel weird and/or ashamed afterward and erase the files? I figure throwing your porn in the woods was the pre-internet version of that.
posted by stinkycheese at 6:02 PM on March 26, 2009 [5 favorites]


So far, cell phone cameras can only take photos in the visible spectrum. Please alert me when X-ray "texting" comes of age, as I'm still waiting for some hot gerbiling pics.
posted by Tube at 6:10 PM on March 26, 2009


Hey all, sorry I didn't get a chance to read the thread. I was at a rainbow party all night, and I still haven't had a moment to take off my fuck bracelets or put the collar back down on my green shirt.

So what is this people were saying about moral panic?
posted by Afroblanco at 6:19 PM on March 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


KokuRyu I think its just perception and selective memory. Really kids are a lot safer today than they ever were in the past.

And, I think a lot of it simply is an unwillingness to a) acknowledge how we acted as kids, and b) admit that our kids will likely be a lot the same.

I've got a two year old, and I don't much worry about him, the internet and porn. I'm absolutely certain that he'll see porn on the net, he's almost guaranteed to want to (one day, right now he's more interested in Sesame Street videos) and there's really no stopping a kid who wants to find porn online. I'm just going to make sure that he has a solid fact based sex ed (I'm currently looking for a well illustrated book aimed at young kids) so he knows what reality is like and what to expect.

But, and here's the important thing, I am not going to pretend that he's going to be chaste in his childhood. I want him to be safe, I'm going to let him know that sexual predators exist and try to help him understand how to avoid them, and ask that if (please no) anyone does abuse him he tells me.

But the thing is that kids are sexual. Or, at least, they can be. I know because I was from at least age 4 onward. If he isn't like that that's fine, I'm certainly not going to try to tell him he should be sexually active. But I am going to work from the assumption that he needs to know everything he can, as early as he can understand it, to avoid being hurt by predators and to avoid (hopefully) getting hurt through ignorance.

As far as predators go, I think the absolute best line of defense is education. If kids don't know what sex is, if they don't know that predators exist, they can't even know that its wrong when someone abuses them. My partner has a friend who recently discovered that her father was molesting her seven year old daughter, the kid had no idea what was going wrong, her mother only found out when the child quite casually told her that it hurt sometimes when grandpa put his finger inside her. If she'd been educated, if she knew what to look out for it could never have been a secret. Her grandfather might have abused her once, but she'd have known it was wrong and would have know to tell her mom right away. Education is the only thing we can really give kids to defend themselves.

We teach our kids to look out for cars when the cross the streets, we explain why it could hurt or kill them if they don't. We don't talk vaguely about "good cars" and "bad cars", we explain about traffic and how to avoid getting hurt by it. That we don't do the same for sex is, to my way of thinking, just as much child endangerment as not teaching them about traffic. Bullshit about "good touch" and "bad touch" is just too maddeningly vague to be of any use at all. We've got to tell them exactly what we mean, and that means sex ed from as early as they can understand it.

And yes, they're going to play sex games. We all did when we were kids. We can't expect that our kids will be different just because it makes us uncomfortable to admit it. What we *CAN* do is educate them so they don't get hurt when they do play those games.
posted by sotonohito at 6:23 PM on March 26, 2009 [11 favorites]


For those who didn't see it the first time around: Porn in the woods. Epic.
posted by mendel at 6:51 PM on March 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'd say that at some point we need to adjust to the fact that we live in a world where most teenagers have probably seen more depraved porn than most adults have. I mean I bet a whole lot of 15 year olds have seen 2 girls 1 cup, etc. To them sending plain vanilla naked pictures is probably as wholesome as a hand shake. The scary part is that it could be so much worse.
posted by empath at 7:57 PM on March 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Jesus -- now on top of "Teenage Kicks" I've also got "The Internet Is For Porn" stuck in my head.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:35 PM on March 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


When I first read about the controversy regarding whether or not "sexting" should be regarded as a criminal offense, I couldn't resist writing this for my own amusement:

Sexting: Should it Be Regarded as a Crime?

Recently, controversy has been generated regarding the new trend of teenagers “sexting” or sending sexually explicit messages and pictures. Many are disturbed by this trend, and some think that teen sexting should be regarded as a crime, and should be treated as such, with arrest a possible consequence.
Naturally sexting is a serious societal problem, and unless it is stopped, it will inevitably lead to the downfall of civilization. Why are our public officials in Washington worrying about the economic crisis, and the situation in Iraq while this “sexting” crisis spreads unchecked?
Anyone with any sense must see that sexting keeps teenagers away from more active pursuits, such as unprotected sex with multiple partners and excessive drug use. Moreover, we musn't forget good old fashioned teen pastimes such as jumping off bridges on a dare, or drive by shootings. Whatever happened to good old fashioned drive by shootings?
As the evidence above indicates, sexting clearly is the most formidable problem facing us today. Dire punishment must be enforced in order to ensure that this trend gets no further.

Sarcasm is fun.
posted by edupoet81 at 9:56 PM on March 26, 2009


I remember back in the day when friends and I dreamed of starting a teen crisis fad. Our idea was Ill Steppin', which was a trend in which kids wore their shoes on the wrong feet, with resultant tragic mishaps and, of course, irreversible foot deformities. Really, all it takes is a simple campaign and strategic press releases to get something like that off the ground.
posted by troybob at 10:13 PM on March 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


Simple. Buy all these kids iPhones and they won't be able to do this any more.

Until this summer.
posted by ooga_booga at 2:05 AM on March 27, 2009


My own high school experience was totally sexually abstinent (not for a lack of desire on my part, mind you), so no dark-ages "sexting" for me. But I can remember seeing guys on the football or wrestling team passing around polaroids and photographs (probably developed at the place at the mall) of drunk naked girls from some recent party. That was pre-email, pre-camera phones, though, so there wasn't any ability to distribute those photos other than by handing them around or maybe making a smudgy photocopy.

But maybe more importantly, I never had any sense that if those guys had been caught, there would have been any interest in charging them as sex criminals. It's possible, I guess, but I think the hysteria would have been focused instead on the beer, bongs, and coke that were also in those photographs -- my memory of the 1980s is that society was much more interested in expanding the concept of "drug dealer" to encompass normal teenagers, while now we want to imprison them all as "child pornographers."

I would bet $10 that just like the "war on drugs," with all its imagery of "normal" white suburban kids getting hooked on drugs, the current fuss over child pornography will eventually be mostly used to convict and imprison minority teenaged boys from the inner city.
posted by Forktine at 4:55 AM on March 27, 2009


"Child Porn" as it is discussed these days assumes age 7 or 8 is the same as age 14 or 15. Ridiculous.
posted by Scoo at 7:04 AM on March 27, 2009


The big question is, how many different colors of lipstick do the teens have in their inbox?

Of course, as Ars Technica pointed out yesterday. The Supreme Court's decisions regarding the criminality of authentic child porn and the legality of virtual child porn is centered around the medium as the proximal product of a felonious act.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:07 AM on March 27, 2009


Simple solution: Ban clothing. When nudity is no longer taboo, then we won't freak out over it

It's -10 and snowing outside my door. I'm going to have to vote ixnay on banning clothing.
posted by Mitheral at 9:47 AM on March 27, 2009


Mitheral said: It's -10 and snowing outside my door. I'm going to have to vote ixnay on banning clothing.


I'm short, round, and subject to gravity. I'm not leaving the bathroom naked, much less going to the mall. Just saying.
posted by dejah420 at 12:00 PM on March 27, 2009


Update re. 4th OP link: Court grants temporary restraining order prohibiting charges from being filed. [PDF]. Sanity prevails, at least temporarily.
posted by webhund at 5:45 PM on March 31, 2009


'Sexting' Hysteria Falsely Brands Educator as Child Pornographer
posted by homunculus at 2:47 PM on April 6, 2009


"Here's the full text - all three paragraphs - of Senate Bill 103, introduced today by Republican Sen. Bob Schuler. "
----
A BILL

To enact section 2907.324 of the Revised Code to prohibit a minor, by use of a telecommunications device, from recklessly creating, receiving, exchanging, sending, or possessing a photograph or other material showing a minor in a state of nudity.


BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF OHIO:

Section 1. That section 2907.324 of the Revised Code be enacted to read as follows:

Sec. 2907.324. (A) No minor, by use of a telecommunications device, shall recklessly create, receive, exchange, send, or possess a photograph, video, or other material that shows a minor in a state of nudity.

(B) It is no defense to a charge under this section that the minor creates, receives, exchanges, sends, or possesses a photograph, video, or other material that shows themselves in a state of nudity.

(C) Whoever violates this section is guilty of illegal use of a telecommunications device involving a minor in a state of nudity, a delinquent act that would be a misdemeanor of the first degree if it could be committed as an adult.
----
"they've scheduled a press conference for Monday.

Here's the release:

WARREN COUNTY – On Monday, April 13, 2009, at 11:00 am State Representative Ron Maag (R-Lebanon) and State Senator Bob Schuler (R-Sycamore Township) will join Warren County Prosecutor Rachel Hutzel in announcing new legislation to appropriately address “sexting” offenses in Ohio. The press conference will be held at the Warren County Prosecutor’s office at 500 Justice Drive in Lebanon, Ohio.

The elected officials will be joined by: Cynthia Logan, mother of Jessica Logan, who committed suicide after her nude picture was widely forwarded amongst fellow teenagers; Parry Aftab, Executive Director of WiredSafety, and Kevin Bright, Superintendent of Mason City Schools, where two students were recently charged for “sexting” activities."
posted by cashman at 12:22 PM on April 9, 2009


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