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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Nudity On the Net

In this day of new technology do we have to protect children from themselves? According to a story in the New York Daily News, "A 14-year-old New Jersey girl has been accused of child pornography after posting nearly 30 explicit nude pictures of herself on — charges that could force her to register as a sex offender if convicted." The unnamed teen was charged with possession of child pornography and distribution of child pornography and released to her mother’s custody." If convicted as a sex offender, the teen would be forced to register with the state under Megan’s Law. She also could face up to 17 years in jail. According to the teen, she posted the photos because "she wanted her boyfriend to see them." The American Civil Liberties Union has asked a federal judge to block the filing charges, saying that the teen didn't consent to the picture's distribution and that the image is not pornography, in any event.
"Teenagers need to know that there are serious consequences for sharing risquDe or compromising pictures of themselves, but trying to teach that lesson with heavy artillery like child-pornography charges — which can have lifelong consequences — is uncalled for. Who does it protect?" said Deborah Jacobs, executive director of the New Jersey ACLU.
Called "sexting" when done by cell phone, the habit of teens sending sexually suggestive photos of themselves and others to one another is becoming a problem. Eight states have already tried to stop it by charging teens who send and receive pictures. This case presents some interesting questions. 1. If child pornography laws are supposed to protect children, how can the law arrest the 14-year-old girl? After all, if she were an adult, she wouldn't be arrested because it isn't illegal to post nude photos of yourself on the internet when you are 18. 2. Should an older teen boy (17 or 18 years old) be arrested for getting a younger teen girl pregnant? 3. Should the parents also be charged when a sex crime is committed by their minor? 4. Are these photos the web equivalent of flashing? 5. Should parents provide children with their own unrestricted computers, cell phones, digital cameras, and web cams? 6. Should the law label someone as a sex offender for the next 60+ years for an action that did not damage any one mentally or physically before they were legally/mentally an adult? 7. Are people in the U.S. sexually maturing earlier, and, if so, should this fact enter into interpretation of sex offender status? Maybe, part of the problem lies with society's obsession with the naked body of a young lady. Madison Avenue, music videos, and the television media typically idolize the young, slender model image of teen perfection. Measures of womanhood and sexuality are taken from this youthful conception of beauty. Companies sell it to consumers constantly. Is it any wonder that some attractive young girls believe their naked image is something to be valued and shared?
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