So many things wrong with this story, I don't know where to begin: Six middle-school boys on Cape Cod are facing child pornography charges for disseminating photos of a partially naked 13-year-old girl via text messages.
Their supporters contend that the charges are much too severe given the ages of the kids involved, and I agree. These laws were meant to prosecute pervy, skeevy adults, not middle-schoolers. What 13-year-old child has a full understanding of right and wrong?
Nevertheless, here's what disturbs me: The idea that kids are doing this, that it's okay to take nude photos AND send them to someone. I just told my husband about this news story and he's aghast. At 13, he says his world was made up of comic books, karate, frisbee, video games, a paper route and sneaking into the neighbor's pool with his friends. He had crushes, but from afar, and that was just fine.
I realize that was a different time, and that technology is part and parcel of the way we live now. Taking cell phone pictures and texting is second nature to our teens. But—and this is a big but—there's a giant leap from there to taking naked pictures and sending them around. Or posing semi-nude for your boyfriend (or girlfriend) and sending them around.
I'm no moralist, but I have to wonder how these teens came to believe that this behavior is alright. They're not alone, either. According to the TV station WBZ and the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, "20 percent of teens have sent or posted nude or semi-nude pictures and video of themselves," and that "39 percent of teens have sent or posted sexually suggestive messages." (Some of them have gotten into legal trouble like these Cape Cod boys.) If these stats are correct, parents are asleep at the wheel and it's time to wake up! We need to teach kids to respect themselves and others. And that cell phones have far better, more benign uses (like figuring out whether you're supposed to meet inside Midtown Comics or in front of it).
For more information, check out this article on Slate.com on "what to do about teens and their dumb naked photos of themselves."