A large increase in child pornography cases have been popping up in courts across the nation. Except it hasn’t been the stereotypically old, creepy, grey-haired pedophile leaning against his rusty work van in a sweat suit offering candy to kids that’s being convicted, but kids themselves, often ages 14 to 17.
How does this happen? The minors certainly didn’t ever see these charges coming. Minors generally think that sending nude or semi-nude photos of themselves to their significant others via text messaging – a recent phenomenon known as “sexting” – is an innocent act, and could never land them in a court house.
A girl from East Lansing High School, age 17, who refused to give her name, said, “Sexting’s a way for me to stay close with my boyfriend… It’s something that we can share privately on our (cell) phones, and I don’t see the harm because it’s our business.”
These recent court cases involving child pornography around the country involved minors in high school or middle school who possessed illegal nude pictures of classmates. These photos become known to the public because whoever received them on a cell phone either forwarded them to other students, or because a teacher confiscated a student’s cell phone for having it in class.
Has the law gone too far in punishing and convicting minors with counts of possession of child pornography, even when underage girls are being convicted of possessing nude photos of themselves?
In January six students of a western Pennsylvania high school were charged with different counts of child pornography. Three girls, ages 14 to 15, who took nude cell phone pictures of themselves and then collectively texted them to their boyfriends, were all charged with disseminating child pornography and criminal use of a communication device. The three boys who received the nude pictures, ages 16 to 17, were charged with possession of child pornography. All original charges were dropped during the final sentencing of the six teens in March. The juvenile court judge sentenced them all to community service and temporary curfews instead.
by Joe Baker