As we were waiting for the update on the discovery of remains believed to be Caylee Anthony (LINK) a discussion about some research published in USA Today distracted us from the disappointing news. The conversation went something like this:
Old Man: Did you read about the Teenage Research Unlimited study about why cell phones are bad for you?
Older Teen: No, what are you talking about Gramps?
Old Man: Well a study by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and CosmoGirl.com shows that 22-percent of teenage girls and 18-percent of boys have taken nude or semi-nude photos of themselves and either sent them or posted them on that darn Internet. It also said a third of the 20 to 26 year old crowd have also done it.
Teen: So what?
Old Man: Well it's not just photos. Supposedly 39-percent of teens and 59-percent of young adults say they've also sent perverted texts.
Teen: Gramps, do you even know what texts are?
Old Man: Course, we had text books back in my school days too, you know. We just didn't send them out to some Internet.
Teen: Gramps I think you are out there. Just what do you think the Internet involves?
Old Man: Don't get smart. I know Al Gore invented computers and this is just computer talk for a place you kids all go to compile your porn and perversion. You get in by having some computer code.
Teen: Are you a religious man?
Old Man: Of course.
Teen: Well, sending naked photos of yourself on the Internet or in a text is no big deal. In fact, it is what Jesus would have wanted. Think of it as a religious experience.
Old Man: How's that?
Teen: Folks today don't have the old hang ups that your generation inherited. Not much difference between bikinis, thongs and being naked. Being naked is just the next step in evolution. Besides, read your bible! Thomas 37: The disciples asked Jesus, "When will you appear to us, and when will we see you?" Jesus responded, "When you become like little children and disrobe without being ashamed, and you take your clothes and put them under your feet and trample them, you shall see the Kingdom of God, and you will not be afraid." ( See USA Today for an article with statistics.)
Old Man: Kid, you can't fool me. You did not read that in the Bible. You read that in the USA Today newspaper! Besides, Thomas was a doubting fool. If Jesus said that, he probably just figured Thomas wouldn't believe it anyway...
The rest of us laughed. Hope this brightens the day for those following the Caylee Anthony saga.
Update 1-19-09: Six Greensburg, Pennsylvania high-schoolers have been busted for exchanging nude pictures of themselves via text message this past November. They have now been charged with child pornography. Three unidentified girls between the ages of 14 and 15 allegedly sent nude pictures of themselves to three boys between the age of 16 and 17. The school found out when a student's cell phone was confiscated during school hours. The earlier story ( other incident) involving Seattle teens resulted in them being kicked off the cheer leading team. Here, the Greensburg teenagers are being charged as criminals.
Update 4-8-09: Vanessa Hudgens (star of High School Musical) apologized when naked photos of her spread on the Internet. But quite simply, even though it has become all too common, sending nude pictures of a teen by text or Internet remains a crime. For example, CNN has reported that Phillip Alpert is a registered sex offender because he allegedly sent a nude photograph of his 16-year-old girlfriend after the two of them got into a spat. This Orlando teen was charged with Child pornography. He was sentenced to 5 years in jail and ordered to register as a sex offender. According to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen & Unplanned Pregnancy, 1 in 5 of the 1300 teens surveyed said that they've sexted even though the majority knew it could be a crime.
Teens be ware: a conviction in many states means you will be registered as a sex offender. ( Alaska, Florida and Maine will register juveniles if they are tried as adults. Indiana and South Dakota registers juveniles age 14+ and 15+ respectively.) Worse yet, in almost all venues, the public has access to the registry. See report on the 'sexting.' If you take a photo or send a photo of a minor naked or semi naked, you've committed a crime. Perhaps fifteen-year-old Marissa Miller of Pennsylvania is available for consult. She was 12 when she and a friend snapped themselves wearing training bras. She and the ACLU are suing the district attorney to prevent the filing of formal charges. Jessica Logan committed suicide after her photo was spread around her high school. Her parents have now joined in the fight to raise awareness of the problems associated with sexting.
Update 2-25-10: Sexting remains a hot issue. Unfortunately, to comment further on this thread you must email firstname.lastname@example.org . Your comment will then be posted. This is an inconvenience that unfortunately must be done because of pornographic spam that has begun to be posted.
Update 8-25-10: In most states, transfering sexual material of a child under the age of 18 is a felony! For example, under Indiana law, this felony is punishable up to eight years in prison and will land you on the sex offenders list. Merely possessing child pornography involving a child under the age of 16 is punishable up to 3 years in prison.
Update 10-1-10: In related news, Tyler Clementi, a Rutgers University student, apparently committed suicide after two students allegedly streamed a video of his gay sexual encounter. Tyler may have reached out for compassion and understanding before killing himself. Postings on justusboys.com may contain several messages from Tyler under the user name "cit2mo." Tyler was just 18. Gawker.
Update 10-11-10: Sexting mistakes may not be limited to teens. The NFL is reviewing reports that a person alleged to be Bret Favre sent voice mails and lewd pictures to Jenn Sterger. Deadspin apparently broke the story according to Reuters.)