An Episode of Sexting

10 Mar

Last night I watched the newest episode of the new ABC show The Deep End, and in this episode an important issue was brought up, one that my new media classes have been discussing for some time now, sexting.

There is a thin line today kids and young adults are treading over when it comes to sending nude pictures of themselves or others. Can you imagine a 16 year old being sent away for 20 years in jail for accepting a nude picture message of his girlfriend? It may be hard to imagine but cases like Phillip Alpert’s unfortunately happen. Alpert was arrested and charged with sending child pornography at the age of 18 after his 16-year-old girlfriend sent him nude photos of herself, which he then passed onto his friends. He was sentenced to five years probation and required by Florida law to register as a sex offender.

It’s important to realize the implications of such actions in today’s society. One nude photo or video could end up viral in a matter of minutes. Does it seem that the punishment for ‘sexting’ is too harsh on teens? Quite possibly. With the advancement in technology and the way we use the internet today new laws concerning the matter should be urged. The laws being used to charge these teens are the laws that upheld to the old standards. It doesn’t seem right you can charge someone with the same standards that fit the old media because times have changed and so has the way media is used. There is a panic to figure out how to regulate such issues and the best way the justice system knows how is to apply the old rules.

Back in March of 2009, almost a whole year ago, The New York Times wrote a great blog about this issue. In it they stated:

But the trouble multiplies when the law gets involved. It’s illegal under federal and state child-porn laws to create explicit images of a minor, posses them or distribute them. These laws were drafted to address adult abuse of minors, but it turns out they don’t exempt minors who create and distribute images, even if the pictures are of them (making them, presumably, the victims). In fact, police and prosecutors in several states are going after creator-victims, including in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Wisconsin.

Luckily there are people who are stepping up to take on the challenge of addressing the ‘sexting’ laws. Dakota Wesleyan University assistant professor Jesse Weins, and a colleague address the issue in a soon-to-be-published article in the Tennessee Law Review. You can read more about Weins here and here.

To learn more about other cases involving ‘sexting’ check out Sexting in America provided by MTV News and AThinLine.org.

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One Response to “An Episode of Sexting”

  1. Cameron Jordan April 28, 2010 at 3:00 am #

    Sexting is what it is … what it isn’t is the manufacture and delivery of child porn. Would I like to have my pictures sexted around the net? Nope! What I am more afraid of is our government (or any government for that matter) thinking it’s a crime that requires anyone to be subjected to the sex offender laws and attached harassment, inability to find housing or employment that go with them. Albert was a perfect example of people in positions of authority abusing that power and then hiding their lack of judgment behind the literal reading of the law without combining it with the laws intent. Here is one for you to think about Mac In washington state earlier this year a 15 yr old girl was put in a cab and driven into downtown Seattle alone where she underwent an abortion then put in a cab back to school where she caught the bus home all without telling her parents a thing. If that same girl had totally consensual sex with an 18 yr old guy and the police found out they would charge him with rape III sex abuse IV and require him to register as a sex offender, his life ruined just as it was getting started. The court would not even get to hear that she consented …why? because she is ot legally old enough to give consent. Wait a minute how can a girl be able to legally give consent w/ out parental permission to have an abortion but that same girl lacks the capacity to give consent to have sex to start with. It doesn’t affect girls either way it’s the poor guys who suffer and are tattoed as rapists and sex offender societies biggest pariahs. Let me ask you this do you think an 18 yr old girl who had sex with a 15 yr old guy would be accused and charged with rape and be required to register as a sex offender? NFW! I think this obvious double standard stinks on ice. The system is really messed up and and child porn has become the crimen exceptum of our era.

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