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April 7th, 2009
12:00 PM ET

Busted for sexting

CNN's Deborah Feyerick reports on the trend of 'sexting' and how police are now getting involved.
CNN's Deborah Feyerick reports on the trend of 'sexting' and how police are now getting involved.

A lot of teens think it's funny, a way to flirt or joke around with friends.

No big deal.

But sending and receiving naked images of children is illegal. And once that photo of your kid is out there it's virtually impossible to get it back.

Watch

What do you think? Should teenagers be prosecuted for "sexting?"


Filed under: Controversy
soundoff (161 Responses)
  1. Glenn

    How will we keep the photo police from enjoying their work?
    Wouldn't it be more effective to just confiscate body parts from non-adults? What about banning hormones?
    When I was a kid this kind of stuff had to be done live. We couldn't trust Kodak. By the way, why are there naked pictures in museums? Shouldn't that be outlawed?
    Let's outlaw nose picking; it's so disgusting. How do we know that those same noses haven't been sexual. People walk around all day with their noses in plain sight! One day I even saw a teen stick out their tongue. I was horrified and cried for an hour.
    ENOUGH! I heard that proposal to implement mandatory blindness.

    April 8, 2009 at 7:34 pm |
  2. Glenn

    Doesn't society have better things to do? How will know when we have outlawed all foolishness? If this is seen as a problem, isn't it a bigger problem when we destroy teens futures and overcrowd the courts with frivolous arrests?
    This is an area where it is serious overkill to get a social wedgie and criminalize another activity out of nosiness and jealousy. What would be really obscene would be to see a naked picture of most of the prudes behind this pursuit.
    It is unwise to try to stop foolishness by being a jackass about it.

    April 8, 2009 at 7:14 pm |
  3. Jordan

    No we shouldn't do that. To ruin their lives over something so stupid. No it's not smart to send naked pics of yourself to other people but kids are and always will be curious. They're always going to do stuff like that. It shouldn't be considered a felony if your just being stupid.

    April 8, 2009 at 6:49 pm |
  4. Harold O.Tennant

    What is the SHAME or SIN in seeing a NECKED BODY !!!
    Everyone has one ???
    It is God given!.
    If you don`t do not like your body take it up with your parents!!!. that is where your features came from !!!

    April 8, 2009 at 6:41 pm |
  5. pigeonman

    If the person received the pictures and sent them out is getting charged with a crime and is having to register as a sex offender, I believe the person who generated the picture should be charged as well. It only makes sense to charge the person who took the pictures if you're going to consider it child pornography after the fact. They took the picture, they made the "Child pornography" so why should they not be held accountable?

    At the age of 16, you know what is wrong and what is right, and you can't just hold the person who received the picture accountable for it, albeit they could just not send it out, but the point is, charge them both.

    Either both get charged for being young and stupid, or none. The persons generating the photo should know whats going as well. Good parenting can't solve this issue, so stop talking about it.

    April 8, 2009 at 6:22 pm |
  6. Cj

    I say prosecute them to the extent permitted.
    It is not as though this is some deep dark secret. By that I mean the teens know they will be held accountable for their actions if they send nude or pornographic photos of themselves to others. What they expect is that their parents will save their butts like they always have. Let them bump their noses and get a nosebleed – then maybe they'll learn life isn't a free ride.

    If the teens want the technology to do things adults can do, then when using it they need to be held to the same standard as an adult.

    Afterall, why should it be OK for Bridget (a teen) to send nude or pornographic photos to Jason or Melissa (other teens); when if Jason's father happens upon these photos on Jason's computer and sends them to his friends he goes to jail for a long time.

    Bottom line: don't do the crime if you can't do the time.

    April 8, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  7. victoria

    regarding the 18 yr old male who may be charged as a sex offender: first of all, what happened to the 16 yr old grl? shes the one who sent it so why isn't she exposed as much as he is. i think it is absolutely ridiculous for this guy to be listed as a sex offender. i guarantee those who want him to be a sex offender, have daughters or sons who do the same exact thing(sexting)!

    April 8, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  8. Brett

    Its not a big deal and it gets blown way out of proportion. Teenagers have a right to their bodies and can choose to send pictures if they want. If the picture gets out then thats their own fault. They learn from their mistakes and get over it. There is no point in ruining peoples life for being normal teenagers.

    April 8, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  9. skip

    of course not. the far right have turned this country into a puritanical cesspool of their own fears and sicknesses. registering teens as sex offenders for sexting is sheer stupidity.

    April 8, 2009 at 6:07 pm |
  10. Tammy

    Yes, kids are getting away with far too much these days. Kids know they will not be punished, that is why we have so many kids killing people. We need to teach our children they will be punished if they do something wrong. We are teaching them it is ok to do something wrong because they are kids. This is porn, no matter how you want to sugar coat it. I am sick of people not taking responsibility for their actions and blaming someone else. It is not always the parents' fault. Parents are not always the reason kids are bad. Some kids just are bad and don't care.

    April 8, 2009 at 6:01 pm |
  11. john

    First of all, everyone is in support of punishing children for trading pictures of THEMSELVES is a MORON. This is America and last i checked everyone is free to express THEMSELVES as they please.(BILL OF RIGHTS....ANYONE?)......Second, many are missing the true danger here, if we register every teenager who does this, in some cases 20 are caught, it will devalue the entire sex offender registration system! These laws were put into place to protect us from REAL CRIMINALS, rapists, molesters, pedofiles, and murderers.......its like the national security watchlist, if you just put everyone on it, then there is no point of the damn list anymore!....Third, is anyone really going to argue a moral issue here, how many of us played doctor, or you show me yours, ill show you mine......it the same thing, just diff bc of the generations obsession with technology.....what happened?....We as a country really need to start using common sense....or any sense at all...

    April 8, 2009 at 6:00 pm |
  12. Ron

    YES. It's against the law, plain and simple. If you (parents) want your children to be able to send nude pics of themselves, then write your congressmen and ask them to change the law. Until then control you kids.

    April 8, 2009 at 5:52 pm |
  13. Dan

    Laws in this country are written by people who are in their later years where technology is allready past their understanding. The problems will continue until we remidy that problem. However the belief has always been you must be old to be in an office that high because you have expirence. Think about it how many 40+ people have any idea what is goign on on face book myspace or twitter. Now people of that age and up are the majority of our legislative branch coming up with laws covering technology. We need people in their late 20's to 30's to stand in to explane what is going on so they can understand. If you asked some of these lawmakers how the internet worked they would probably thing the postal service handeled email. Should kids be prosecuted for this sexting NO it should be a matter for the family and schools. Should the reciever of a picture from his underage gf send it around to others NO but she sent it without coercion or being conned into it then its her problem if he does. The punishment will be her humiliation and she will have to get by it. Unless there is coercion then there is no crime. And the photos once taken will be distributed in some cases and frankly it shouldnt be a court issue. The kid brought that on themselves. Its time to stop shielding them and for the love of god the suicide should not be the reason for harder punishment. Just because one of the many that have done this same stupid act cannot take it and takes the cowards way out, well maby the parents should take responsibility. And the one with her child in a bra with a friend at a sleepover.. Well someone please explane what the difference is between a bra top and a two piece bikini top ? other than maby some lace and i say maby because i am sure i have seen bikinis with lace. But what the heck i dont know its jus tmy opinion however religious zelots and thoes using morals as an excuse to make this justified. Think for a moment why did we leave britan and make the USA. Wasn't it because people were mad because other peoples specific morals and religious beliefs were being forced upon them. Now arent we doing the same, Banning gay marrage restricting pornography (fully llegal 18+ age stuff talking about specific acts that cannot be preformed on screen despit them being normal for some in regular life and not illegal in that context) Limiting public displays (towns in new jersey bannign residents from displaying yellow ribbons for troops on their private property because the towns have anti public display laws). We are asking for a civil war if we keep this up eventually someone is going to fight back. And needless to say this time around there isnt a country ungoverned to explore and take over so it will be in our back yards.

    April 8, 2009 at 5:49 pm |
  14. Alex

    Those saying that teens should be charged as criminals for something so silly, either they don't have kids, or they are too old to go through this. Obviously, DAs doing this are a bunch old people that barely know how to turn a computer on.

    April 8, 2009 at 5:48 pm |
  15. Claire

    I believe that he should be charged with the crimes. When you turn 18, everything changes and he need to realize that. As for registering as a sex offender, I believe that should not be the case. He should serve a couple of months in jail and then go on probation for 5 years. The laws need to be adjusted to today's society. Until then he should be registered as an offender, since that is what the law states... doesn't mean i completely agree with it.
    When you really take the time to think about it, she was 12 years old... he is 18. He sent out pictures of a half-naked 12 year old. That is child porn, plain and simple. I am only 21, but kids today are a lot dumber and don't take responsibility for what they do. Heck, a lot of people my age are just as dumb, I do not understand it. Everything has a consequence. I know that, why doesn't everyone else?

    April 8, 2009 at 5:42 pm |
  16. Jeremy

    Heck no these kids should not be treated like this. This is an outrage!!!!!! Kids that sext should get in trouble but should neverbe considered as a sex offender!!!!!!!! This is the worst type of prosecution ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!! These stupid people that want to prosecute these kids like this are total idiots and need to be slapped senseless!!!!!!!!! Along with all the judges and Police and everyone!!!!!! These kids lives are being ruined before they even have begun their lives!!!!!!!!!

    April 8, 2009 at 5:32 pm |
  17. Ted

    Ruin a kids life and for what? Nothing. We are living in a police state.

    April 8, 2009 at 4:57 pm |
  18. Dan

    No! I don't believe that sexting is child pornography. .Many parents have innocently taken pictures of their young childen in the bath tub and no sane person would consider that child pornography. Laws have always recognized that there are different degrees of crime, including murder, which deserve different punishments. Petty theft is treated differently than armed robbery. Some mild punishment (community service, fines, etc) is called for as a deterrent, especially if the photos were sent maliciously, but permanently putting a young person on a sex offenders list is mean spirited, ridiculous and eventually will make the list worthless in identifying real sex offenders. The law of unintended consequences is clearly at work here.

    Also, nudity is not pornography! In many parts of Europe nudity is not frowned upon. I've seen nude women portrayed on large bill boards in Frankfurt, Germany and in the heart of Berlin there is a park where people undress during their lunch hours to get some sun. Public steam rooms encourage mixed nudity. Beaches in parts of Europe and in the Caribbean allow full or partial nudity. Only the most repressed individuals consider that lewd or pornographic, but the USA seems to have an abundance of them.

    April 8, 2009 at 4:56 pm |
  19. Michael

    Why do you suppose there are different laws for juveniles than adults? Because kids do stupid things sometimes and they deserve a second chance. While this behavior may be apaulling to those of us who are mature, we must realize technology that didn't exist in our day in the hands of teens is going to bring about unexpected results and we should not just find some law to prosecute these kids, but rather push for legislation that will deal with the crime according to its severity. Kiddie porn laws were written for people who exploit children, not for teens whose sex drives are awakening in them. Come on people!! We must educate our kids, not ruin them for life because our own self-righteous nature.

    April 8, 2009 at 4:54 pm |
  20. Bigdaddy

    Of course these boys need to be registered sex offenders! The grils who send naked pictures to them do not intend them for anyone else's eyes other than their "true love". These boys know what they're doing is wrong. They may not realize the full extent of the consequences but letting them slide encourages more indecent "boys will be boys" behavior. Sexually humiliating a girl out of spite is a horrendous thing to do and putting a stop to it requires that the people doing it pay a hefty price.

    Requiring a girl's parents to supervise her so that nobody violates her- well, just give me a break!

    April 8, 2009 at 4:49 pm |
  21. Jim

    YES!
    Ask how the parents of the girl who committed feel. Teenagers can be cruel and do things like this without really caring about what will be of the girl who was exposed in such a nasty way.
    Actions have consequences.

    April 8, 2009 at 4:49 pm |
  22. Daniel

    Okay, I think the one issue we have to get past is that this is a really dumb idea. Do NOT send or post naked pictures of yourself over any form of telecommunications. Not because you can get arrested, not because it can go farther than you expect, those are both good reasons, but because why the hell would you want Verizon or T Mobile to have access to naked pictures of you?

    Yea sure this is a stupid decision, but here's the real question. This guy made a big mistake, sure, how is ANYONE going to benefit from his life being destroyed? Cause that's what's really at stake here. How would you like your name to be on the sex offender registry? Do you think that would make it easy for you to get a job? So now he probably can't get into college or get a job because they'll all go ahead do a background check. And so I guess all for one mistake made in one moment he'll have to live a miserable life from now on. I guess that's okay though, cause he broke the LAW!

    And the really sick part of this whole thing is that it's not even the SPIRIT of the law in the first place. It's not like this kid was on the mind of lawmakers when they were writing this law. They were thinking "We want to destroy some 18-year old kid's life with this law because he sent some pictures of his 16-year old girlfriend."

    April 8, 2009 at 4:48 pm |
  23. T

    Absolutely! If you commit the crime you must do some time. I bet if they get caught just one time they will never do it again! We keep letting these kids get away with unexcusable crime and they will grow up spending their lives behind bars! It is a crime and they need to be responsible for it!

    April 8, 2009 at 4:39 pm |
  24. bob

    i think that if someone sends a message in confidentiality to a boyfriend or girlfriend and is later surprised by it going public, yes it should be a crime. its exploitation. it should be illegal it puts teens at high risk for things to get out of control and pictures to get in the wrong hands. its the government protecting teens, and quite frankly, its trashy anyway. why would you set yourself up in a situation where you can be screwed over. ive seen it happen to people and it ruins lives. dont do it, especially you girls, no matter how much you trust the person

    April 8, 2009 at 4:37 pm |
  25. David

    So, let me get this straight. We protect our kids by waiting for some dumb kid to do something stupid. We then pick on him and destroy his life and publicly humiliate him with the full force of the law so that our kids can see how much we care about them and help them understand how important it is for them to wait till they are 18 before they participate in the mire of porn and sexual deviancy that a large percentage of American adults appear to feast on.
    You see, I don't understand something about this. I agree it is not good or desirable for a teen to have his/her nude photo plastered around on cell phones. But surely destroying a kid's whole life and future and labelling him for life as a Sex Offender is a hugely greater act of violation against a youngster than the sort of Internet silliness that teens indulge in. Sorry I forgot...we are just trying to show them how much we care about them.
    I think its about time we got the next great pandemic and start cleaning away some of the dumb ass DNA that's beginning to pollute this nation. What a bunch of hypocrites!!!

    April 8, 2009 at 4:24 pm |
  26. Mark

    If a 30 year man or woman sends those pictures, he / she will be charged and labeled a sex ofender and he/she will be prosecuted. Same goes for the person or people who recieves those pictures.
    Why then a teen should get away with doing the same? Oh yeah some of you will say..."they are just young kids acting stupid". Well their stupidity got them in trouble and just like any adult they should pay for their "crime". Yes i said crime. After all the only difference between a 30 years old and a teen committing the same crime is the age.

    April 8, 2009 at 4:21 pm |
  27. Julie Wilson

    Anybody who thinks that it is right for these kids to be PROSECUTED and placed on a SEX OFFENDERS list must be a bitter and hateful person who probably has emotional problems relating to teens.

    This victimizes them, the laws were not meant to be used in this way. The DA in Pennsylvania is acting as an ego driven child would, the parents who refused are absoltely right and I support them 100%

    April 8, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  28. Angela

    The teens should be punished. I do not think they need to be tried as sex offenders or made to register. However, the point of fact is what teens are doing by sending the pictures are harmful to themselves and to others. Being the fact the teens are under 18 does make the pictures child pornography by law. Being under 18 does not excuse you for breaking the law and the teens should be educated. Espcially since there have been incidences of teens taking pictures of other teens and sending those naked pictures out into cyber space without permission and thought of the consequences to the other person.

    April 8, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  29. lc

    no with this provision, each party must know what is being sent and nothing under the age of 16 should be allowed.

    April 8, 2009 at 3:49 pm |
  30. ****

    When I was 16 (long before "sexting"), I made the phenomenally stupid decision to make a special video for my boyfriend (also 16). After we broke up, I managed to get the tape back from him. When we were both in college, I found out that he had made a copy of it and shown it to all his friends in his dorm. Humiliated, I finally confronted him, informing him that he was in possession of and disseminating child pornography. Naturally, he denied still having the tape, claiming he destroyed it. Several years later, I continue to find that unlikely.

    My ex's crime is different from those in question here, of course, because he was 19 when he passed around the spoils of our 2 1/2 yr. relationship. I think he absolutely deserves some punishment. A 19 year old in college is not a careless little boy, and his action would probably not even be worth a questioning headline. Had he spread around the video at 16, he'd still be an immature and malicious jerk, but not deserving of a place among the ranks of other types of sex offenders.

    Despite my personal experience, I do not think these offenders should be prosecuted in the same way as child molesters and those in posession of more "typical" child pornography. The victims are not the same. To lump a stupid 16 year old girl with a 4 year old victim of rape is absurd and grossly minimizes the younger child's trauma. However, if a minor repeatedly gets caught sexting, that could signal deeper problems that could very well manifest themselves more significantly later in life. Perhaps a record of some kind should be kept, but not available to the public like standard registries.

    The scope of a blog entry does not allow for the vast number of variables involved in cases like this. Should the parents be blamed for not monitoring their child's cell use? They can potentially get into trouble with CPS if they let their underage child have sex, but do the kids get registered as sex offenders for having sex before the age of consent? Furthermore, at 13 a kid can legally buy a pre-paid phone and get a text and picture package without parental consent. Should that freedom be addressed? I agree that the laws lag behind the technology. These instances of underage "sexting" should be handled on a case-by-case basis, the offenders not prosecuted with rapists and pedophiles.

    April 8, 2009 at 3:35 pm |
  31. Fred

    Of course I think teens should be prosecuted and be put on a sex offenders list. Sure, it only took them 2 minutes to text their friends the image of their naked ex-girlfriend, but what kind of mental trauma do you think it will do to the ex-girlfriend. She now has to live with the shame that her entire family and friend's have seen her naked body due to this guys inability to cope with an argument. Plus the fact that she is only 16 years old and he's a legal adult!

    I put myself in the shoes of a parent and if my daughter's adult ex-boyfriend distributed pictures of her to friends and family, i would want to ring his neck. He deserved every bit of public shame. It would only take a few minutes to pull a trigger too. Should you be punished for the rest of your life for that?

    And for everyone that just seems to think it's kids being kids, that bull malarky. Kids need to understand that the rules apply to them as well and they can't just act stupid because they are kids. To say they don't know any better is absolute absurdity. So it's okay for a 14 year old to burn my house down because they didn't know any better. Kids need to be made examples of in order for prevention of sexting to occur in the future. They need to understand consequences for their actions.

    April 8, 2009 at 3:30 pm |
  32. matt

    waylan, you're a frikking idiot. it's not the parent's fault that the kid sent a message like that. teens do stupid things sometimes. and, they certainly shouldn't be held responsible because they didn't raise him/her right. you obviously don't have any kids! get a clue...

    April 8, 2009 at 3:29 pm |
  33. Carolyn

    NO. Absolutely not. No crime has been committed, and the "system" is dead wrong. It isn't protecting anyone – it is persecuting innocent kids who are not guilty of the crimes for which they stand accused. What a sad twisted world this has become.

    April 8, 2009 at 3:20 pm |
  34. tired

    Look at the big picture. Every time they trump up a charge against a teen for doing what every teen in history has done SOMEBODY is making MONEY. THE ENTIRE LEGAL SYSTEM HAS BECOME ABOUT MONEY NOT JUSTICE. IF YOU HAVE MONEY YOU ARE FOUND NOT GUILTY OR LET GO. IF YOU DO NOT HAVE MONEY AND DEPEND ON AN APPOINTED LAWYER THEN THEY THROW THE BOOK AT YOU AND YOU PAY PAY PAY.
    WAKE UP PEOPLE AND VOTE THESE INCOMPENDENT PEOPLE OUT OF ANY OFFICE WITH AUTHORITY.

    April 8, 2009 at 3:07 pm |
  35. Daniel

    Short answer to the question of do I think these teens should be prosecuted for "sexting?" Yes, teens should have to face a consequence for this crime. I do not however feel that teens should be placed on the sex offender list regardless of how they were involved with this offense.

    Long answer:
    When it comes down to it, this is not a black or white issue as a whole seeing as there are many different parts to the crime. There must be a difference made between the punishments delivered to the person who takes a photo of them self, the person who sends the photo to their significant other, and the person responsible for disseminating the photo to the greater audience. Do I think that these people all deserve to be put on the sexual offender list? No, and I will tell you why.

    The first thing that must be remembered here is that we are dealing primarily with non emancipated minors. Now most of us, if not all of us, would concede that the brains of minors, let alone many people well past the age of majority, are not fully developed and this is very evident in their behavior. The rules of contract and tort law seem to reflect this notion through limiting the powers and liabilities of non emancipated minors. Seeing this we must consider that these decisions may not have been thought through enough to foresee their implications. If that is the case the punishments assigned to these offenses should reflect this handicap.

    Now on to the meat of the discussion, why thought should be given to the idea of having different consequences for different types of "sexting." First of all, there are clearly different types/parts of this offense listed earlier as, the taking of the offensive photograph of oneself, sending the photograph to one's significant other, and then further disseminating the photograph in question. Notice how there is a different punishment for murder 1 (M1) vs involuntary manslaughter (IM). This difference makes sense considering the premeditated nature of M1 and the lack thereof in IM. If we follow that convention possibly there could arbitrarily be a Sexting 1, 2, and 3 containing decreasing level of punishment. Seeing as the punishment that is arguably the worst of the different types of "sexting" is the wide spread dissemination of photographs, the harshest punishments should be given to these people, and to those who took the photo of them self, they should recieve a punishment less severe.

    These punishments should convey that society does not take this issue lightly, but should also not ruin the potential for these teens to become productive members of society one day. In other words, these punishments should give the offenders a second chance before hitting the age of majority when they should understand that they are held liable for their actions. Now, I do not think that I am the best person to come up with precise punishments for these offenses, but I think they should likely include the following:
    For all offenders, mandatory education plans, possible community service giving education plans to other minors upon graduation from the education program, watch list, and a 2 strikes you are out policy.
    For the mass senders of this pornography, probation time, etc.
    Now seeing as these punishments do not contain any jail time or anyone being placed on the sexual offender list, it might leave some of you wondering, "How does this convey that society doesn't take this issue lightly?" Remember that these are teens we are dealing with, and many do not see how what they are doing is bad. The education plan must be extensive, and must reiterate to these minors why this is unacceptable behavior, that they will be prosecuted as a sex offender if this offense is committed again, what this prosecution means to them, as well as other information deemed necessary. This should get the point across to most all of the minors, and for those it doesn't, it will be a short time before they are prosecuted for child pornography.

    Before any of you start to accuse me of having the desire to see a naked minor please re-read this post. If after reading again you still feel the urge to discuss this issue more, make a post and I would be happy to consider your opinion and continue this discussion.

    April 8, 2009 at 3:04 pm |
  36. Missy

    Parents absolutely have to be involved. I will take this article home and have my 13 year old son read it. We are a society that looks for reasons/excuses not to blame ourselves. It's time we assume responsibility for as much as we can. However...being the parent of three children (2 grown) I can tell you that we can only do so much. We can teach values and morals but we can't compete with peer pressure. Those of you that are so quick to pass judgement..do you have kids? Have they ever done something wrong? Did you yell or reprimand them? Try to sit down everyday and talk. Make you child understand that they can tell you whatever they need to...before they listen to somebody else.

    April 8, 2009 at 3:03 pm |
  37. Dan Johnson

    Yes, they absolutely should be charged with this. They may innocently take that picture, but as soon as it hits the 'net it's out there for every pervert to copy and forward along. As a parent it's MY responsibility to make sure my kids know the law, and if they break it they have to face the consequences. These are NOT little children anymore, they are young adults and need to realize their actions have consequences.

    April 8, 2009 at 2:56 pm |
  38. Abramos

    Yes, they are breaking the law. Small wonder that the "immature teens" have no concept of responsibility. "I was just young and immature." As the pornographic culture becomes more and more acceptable, things like sending nude pictures of your underage girlfriend will also become more and more acceptable. Wasn't there a time when some of us learned that "everyone's doing it," was a lame excuse for bad behavior? People need to learn responsibility, and "Oh, just let them do whatever they want," doesn't work in a society that has no concept of responsibility to begin with.

    April 8, 2009 at 2:49 pm |
  39. Harry Balzac

    Another example of Law Enforcement worrying about crimes they can solve instead of solving murders and violent crimes. Always taking the easy route out. And the judge in Florida is no judge, he is a grade A moron!

    April 8, 2009 at 2:40 pm |
  40. Jacob

    Dear john who posted at "April 8th, 2009 1:47 pm ET"

    Your lack of punctuation, horrible typing, and abbreviating everything in "text" talk indicates the level of intellect you are capable of.

    It humors me that you think "having fun" includes forwarding on nude images of your friends to other people via your cell phone. Is it so "fun" when your image ends up all over the internet? Is it so fun when people you know suffer emotional or mental distress because a picture they took for "fun" is now on everyone's cell phone in the school? Who's having the "fun" then?

    Dear TCabo who said "If I had any inkling that any of them were acting in this manner I would have taken away their phones."

    Do you really think you know? Do you check their phones daily? Who's to say that the kid doesn't snap some photos of him/herself in the bathroom, out of the shower, before bed and send them off then delete the images before you would even know? You're naive to think that it would be so easy to see the "acting in this manner". That's just it though people don't know and it will continue to happen so long as these services are in place–I'm not saying get rid of photo capable cell phones, but maybe parents who purchase these things for their kids need to think: does a 12-18 year old really need a cell phone with photo capability anyways?

    To all else, it's not so much the "sexting" that I have an issue with, you can't prevent it easily. The issue that is really the problem is when these get forwarded from the intended recipient to other friends and possibly family. This is what teenagers are being prosecuted for, and probably rightfully so.

    April 8, 2009 at 2:27 pm |
  41. Gloria

    This is the craziest thing I ever heard. Children should never be labeled as sex offender. They should always be disciplined for wrong doing, but labeling them a such a young age is ludicrous.

    April 8, 2009 at 2:25 pm |
  42. jen

    just a little foot note. One pic my son recieved I showed to the girls mother she told me "Thats not my child" two days later my son got a pic of the same girl in nothing but a towel. So I truely believe PARENTS need to teach SELF RESPECT. And open your eyes mothers cause that is your baby girl. Maybe if the mom would have punished her child by oh i dont know taking the camra phone away she would think before she takes a semi nude pic. I also know this girl sends the pics to more than just my son. The way this is going all a 16 yr old girl has to do to get back at the boy who dumped her is send a nude pic and his life is over!

    April 8, 2009 at 2:01 pm |
  43. justin

    these aren't pictures of 3 and 4 year-olds, they should just be slapped with an indecent-exposure charge

    April 8, 2009 at 1:59 pm |
  44. Sherry

    Absolutely!!!

    This is child pornography if they are 16 or under! It is still pornagraphy and is distribution of porn at any age! It is against the law and should be prosecuted to fullest extent of the law! Where have our morals gone?

    Sherry in MD

    April 8, 2009 at 1:57 pm |
  45. Tracy

    Everybody who defends Sexting obviously has something to hide. If an adult sends naked pictures of themselves to another adult (of course consentual) then everything's okay. But the moment any minor is involved it is a crime. Sounds fair enough. Children have very minimal rights because "laws" should be enforced by their parents. People speak of privacy when it comes to texting, but in all fairness should children have privacy? If a girl is thought to be pregnant and the parents want her to take a dna test, then the test is given due to the parental rights. This should also be the case. Children should not have the "right" to send other children naked pictures of themselves. Fact is anybody who disagrees with this MUST have a desire to see children naked. Do we really need more people like that in society?

    April 8, 2009 at 1:47 pm |
  46. john

    the fact that this is even an issue bothers me we are just kids having fun we should be able to send this pics to r bf/gf if we want to without ppl getting into our buisness we have camrea phones now wtf do u expect us to do ppl say that kids need to grow up but we arnt the ones wit the problem so take that u over bearing parents that think thier kids are angels there is no such thing as an angel in this world anymore our entire population is corupt get used to it bc its the way it is

    April 8, 2009 at 1:47 pm |
  47. Aaron

    Now everyone is discussing technology is too blame. Then if so, then the Cellular phone companies should be able to block and stop the sending of images such as these, they are aware that children have the phones and have parental consent to have a phone, not too mention some companies require consent for certain add-ons to a cell phone plan.

    So now we are down to the Children who were involved (victim + accused) being innocent because technically they are minors (accused was a minor at the time of the picture then distributed it at 18), however they're both still in High school, hence they are both minors living with their parents attending a high school.

    Now we have a cell phone company being an affiliate and a accomplice to a crime involving a sexual incident against a minor as well as the school allowing cell phones to be used in promoting the image/s on school property when possibly the students were not allowed to have the phones on campus. Possibly the parents didnt give consent to the school to allow their child to retain the phones on school premises.

    This is a case that has too many fine lines in between. The defense attorney could have strayed off the main subject and portrayed that the school or even cell phone companies could have stopped this from happening before it even did. So in all honesty the defense is to blame for the punishment that was given to the male subject.

    Thats just observations from a prior law student whose getting ready to go back through the JAG program for the Air-Force.

    April 8, 2009 at 1:46 pm |
  48. zach

    So I assume everyone is guilty of child molestation, because self-gratification before the age of consent clearly violates the same bizzare logic.

    April 8, 2009 at 1:46 pm |
  49. jen

    My problem with all this is the boys seem to be the ones getting introuble yet its the girls taking and sending the pics in the first place. I have a 16 year old son who has reicieved several pics from girls he isnt even dating I am a good parent so I check my sons phone 2-3 times a week and those pics are deleted. But what happens if I dont delete them in time and he gets cought he is charged. but the GIRLS SENT THE PICS FIRST yet they go unpunished. To the parents of those kind of girls TEACH YOUR CHILD SELF RESPECT AND THEY WONT SEND DIRTY PICS. My son has been taught to respect a girl even if she doesnt respect herself so now he comes and shows me what was sent we delete and disscus.

    April 8, 2009 at 1:34 pm |
  50. Vince

    I believe "intent" is the word we are looking for. Is it a person(s) intent to utilize voluntarily submitted photos for the purpose of pornography? Between two private citizens is (intimacy) one thing...sharing it with internet web sites (pornographic purposes) is another...and blasting it out to your phone address recipients (hurting out of spite) is still another thing. In short, I agree our laws are not keeping up with technology or the up and coming generation. What else is new. I also agree prosecutors need to exercise more discretion (as in the punishment must fit the crime). We have monitored our childs(15) web activity and are a little disturbed at what we see. Some photos are daring but, not pornographic. Of course, we communicate our "expectations" and ramifications to our son. We can only hope and pray he listens and believes!

    April 8, 2009 at 1:32 pm |
  51. Bill

    Absolutely they should be prosecuted. This world is becoming a disgusting place. The first time I heard of cameras on every cell phone my first reaction was.... kids will just abuse this. Then manufacturers came out with the web on your cell phone... now you can take videos too? Give me a break. When I went to school, cell phones didn't exist and we all managed just fine. The problem is that parents don't no how to say NO anymore.... and that is pathetic. A continual breakdown in morality... this world will continue to crumble. If it's not on TV, it's on the radio... and now on cell phones. I'm an extremely liberal adult. But pushing liberal attitudes about sex on young children is just wrong IMO. Sex comes with responsibility and maturity.... and the last time I checked, our youth were much less responsible or mature than generations past.

    April 8, 2009 at 1:32 pm |
  52. Paul

    For those of you who say that yes he should be put on the sex registry because it's a crime. You are the reason why this country is so bad right now, you're probably the same person who loves Bush and all he's done. This punishment does NOT fit the crime and to say otherwise is just appalling.

    I can not believe that the DA, Skumanick, compared sexting to robbing a bank. If this is the way that he practices law he should lose his license, DAs have discretion as to what to do in certain cases and it happens all the time. Drug offenders often times plea down to misdemeanors or someone who commits armed robbery sometimes gets pleaded down to just robbery/larceny.. it's not uncommon. He says that the girl has a choice of what to do to avoid prison, but in essence what he's doing is blackmailing her to do one thing to avoid another.

    For the boy who is on the sex registry until his 40's.. I feel so bad for him because he made a very stupid and immature mistake that will end up costing him so much. He was kicked out of college for Christ's sake! How does the DA allow this? How can they not see that this wasn't on the same line as rape or any other sex crime that people can be charged for? I hope to God that the DA or the Judge does something illegal soon and a photographer or someone else catches them in the act so that they can lose their bar license and so that their whole lives get turned upside down just like this 18 year-old kids.

    Is this what the American criminal justice system has become? I hope to God it's not and I hope that this gets fixed, fast. Keep fighting these immoral SOB's and for the people that voted the judge or AG in to that state, write to your congressmen! Change the verdict or at least the punishment because this isn't right.

    April 8, 2009 at 1:29 pm |
  53. PETE

    ABSOLUTE STUPITY BY THE LAWMAKERS, POLICE AND THE COURTS. What a total waste of our tax dollars. Typical smoke and mirrors, look at this and the stupid logic behind it instead of at the REAL problems in our society.
    Kurt, Nate, and lg, you got it right.
    Liam, Aaron, Jeff, KMG, all of you summed up up together almost qualify as an idiot........ YOU WILL SEND A 17 YEAR OLD TO DIE IN IRAQ AND AFHIGANISTAN AND DECLARE HIM FINE TO KILL FOR YOU, BUT NOT OLD ENOUGH TO DRINK, AND THEN A MONTH LATER IF HE SENDS A PHOTO OF A TIT THAT WAS SENT TO HIM BY HIS YOUNGER GIRLFRIEND HE IS A SEX OFFENDER ..... GOD ALMIGHTY, any of you who try to rationalize criminalizing these kids are criminals themselves. 100 years ago 16 was the ave age of girls getting married.

    Unfortunately we got REAL morons running this country, making ridiculous laws, and a huge herd of idiots sucking it up.

    April 8, 2009 at 1:26 pm |
  54. DaveS

    No! These are kids. If they take a pic of themself and send it who is the victim? Themself? The laws need to be re-written to address changes in technology.

    April 8, 2009 at 1:15 pm |
  55. Todd

    It is not acceptable behavior? Are you kidding me? To md and les, simply because I don't have the time to go back and bring down the rest of the names, you have lost your minds. One, it's not pornography. Two, a teenager that takes a photo of a boyfriend or girlfriend (lets stop at that point) should not be charged with a crime or registered as sex offenders. This is completely moronoic.

    April 8, 2009 at 1:09 pm |
  56. JS

    If we find kids kissing, will they now be child molestors. These are young people exploring with other young people. It is a natural part of life that can now be expanded with technology. This is no different than taking a picture of your girl/boy friend in the seventies with a polaroid camera. This thing has really gone to far. Do we really want the government in that much control of this aspect of our life.

    April 8, 2009 at 1:01 pm |
  57. SDG

    Hell yes they should be prosecuted. It's not about nudity, it's about innocence. It's about this teen who made a really stupid mistake that derived from a stupid mistake in the first place and unless we curb the appeal for this new 'rave' these mistakes will spiral out of control and worsen I'm sure to the point of loss of lives. Yes you can count on homicides as a result of these stupid gestures.

    When they are 18? Sure, post your stupid mistakes all over the internet for us all to laugh at and knowingly accept the consequences, but if your 16, and one stupid mistake leads to another that will scar you for the rest of your life, then yes teens need to learn from their stupid mistakes and it's not funny anymore.

    FYI – Anything that gets sent to the internet NEVER LEAVES. It is there forever. These 'under age nude shots' are landing on pornographic websites and outside of humiliation, they are making money from them. Why the hell would we allow that?!

    April 8, 2009 at 12:57 pm |
  58. chris

    NO, these prosecutors stating that there are grave dangers to sexting are themselves the grave danger. Everyone makes mistakes as a teen, if a teen gets caught steeling or doing drugs the record of their crimes becomes sealed when they are adults. We already treat teem crime different from that of adult crime. This is sensationalist crap in its purest form and these prosecutors and judges seeking maximum penalties should be pulled from their positions and labeled as to extreme to ever work in their field again.

    April 8, 2009 at 12:54 pm |
  59. Nate

    This is ridiculous. The country is in shambles and people choose to focus on teenagers sending pictures of each other around. Do we need to ruin a kids life for sending a picture around? Why dont parents speak to their children about not photographing themselves in compromising positions and nip this in the bud.

    April 8, 2009 at 12:49 pm |
  60. pmoore

    Its really to bad kids have to do things like that But kids don't always use good judgement that why they have parents and parents are the ones to deal with it not the law after all look what they are exposed to on tv and those people are not charged with indecent exposure or charged with child molesting when they expose themselves so children can see them and they are adults and should know better and they get away with it and the law wants to ruin kids for life with being registered as sex affenders come on and get real.

    April 8, 2009 at 12:48 pm |
  61. Kurt

    Absolutely not!!! This is nothing more than "you show me yours and I'll show you mine" which is something kids have been doing since the beginning of time. Just because it's high tech and because we have so many over zealous crime fighters, we want to criminalize children. Good God, where is the sense in this? Additionally, as in everything else, boys will certainly be judged more harshly than girls so there is no way to make criminalizing such acts fair. The only solution is TAKE THE FREAKIN' CAMERA PHONES AWAY FROM THESE KIDS!!!!

    April 8, 2009 at 12:45 pm |
  62. lg

    They should NOT be charged. Why do people freak out about nudity in this society so much? It's how we naturally are, it shouldn't be seen as obscene. It is up to the teenagers themselves to make sure the picture is handled responsibly and doesn't end up in a public forum. Being charged for this only gives them more unwanted attention and is much more humiliating than if they take care of it themselves or with the help of a parent. And it's a picture, it's not like the kids are running around naked having sex in public. At least they can't get STDS or get preggers from 'sexting'. If they want to show off their natural body then let them.

    April 8, 2009 at 12:33 pm |
  63. md

    YES! I absolutely agree they need to be charged with a crime. These kids are able to understand right from wrong. The problem today is adults want to smear the line and this kind of garbage gets normalized. Let it be known this is a crime. Phone companies should be required to distribute this info when parents or kids get their phones so there's no question of not knowing. Sex on the bus, sex at teen parties, nude photos as jokes, where does it end? Our kids deserve better respect by creating stiff guidelines for new technology to keep them in line. What will our society degrade to if we don't?

    April 8, 2009 at 12:17 pm |
  64. Alex

    I would take the time to write an articulate, thought-out response to this question, but many of you have already nailed it. 🙂

    Let me sum it up:

    Discipline? Yes.
    Public humiliation and possible jail time? No.

    Give me a break, people. Registration in the sex offender database?

    The age of "consent" in Florida is 18. This does NOT apply when one individual is younger than 24, but the other is 16 or older. So, Alpert obviously committed no crime by engaging in a consensual relationship with her. Do we need to re-write this law to say, "You can f*ck, but you can't take pictures!"?

    Why should he be registered as a sex offender for sending photos that were taken with permission? All she needed to do was pick up a tabloid to know:

    IF YOU GET IN FRONT OF A CAMERA WITH NO CLOTHES ON, YOU WILL END UP ON THE INTERNET OR ON YOUR FRIENDS' CELL PHONES!

    If you want to revise the law to prevent minors from engaging in sexual activity, that's fine. Just don't say to leave the camera at home.

    Come on, that's like saying, "You can go on vacation, but you can't take pictures". Who's going to believe you ;-)?

    April 8, 2009 at 12:15 pm |
  65. Arkin

    Nudity does not always equal pornography.

    April 8, 2009 at 12:13 pm |
  66. Aaron

    Considering the individual was 18 and the pictures involved a 16 year old (a minor), it should be considered a crime, however the extent of the punishment is a little to extreme. The only crimes against children on the books in the State of Florida that are qualifying reasons to be placed on the Sex Offenders List which the state could have prosecuted on are:

    – Luring/Enticing a Child (she voluntarily posed for the pictures, no enticing to create that scenario considering they're teenagers beginning a climb let alone possibly be at the peak of sexual and hormonal states)

    – Unlawful Sexual Activity with certain minors (however on the books it requires you to be 24 or older with the activities of someone 16+)

    – Lewd or lascivious offenses committed upon or in the presence of persons less than 16+ (however the female voluntarily took the pictures for the male and was well aware what she was doing in a competent manner when she allowed and posed for those pictures, but was unaware that he could have possibly distributed the photographs or could be unaware that someone else took the phone and sent it to themselves for the use of distribution)

    Other qualifying offenses can be found at the following address:
    http://offender.fdle.state.fl.us/offender/FloridaLaws.jsp

    Consider that the school very well could be to blame for allowing the "sexting" to progress and proceed through its hallways. The administration was allowing students to repeatedly allow the cell-phones to be out during class, in-between class, relaying the pictures when its considered a distraction to the other students. So why wouldn't the school system be to blame? They make a sexual education course mandatory in which they explain Sex in a all-around manner, from STD's, repercussions, safe-sex, and some administrations show films on and about sex that show the intercourse taking place. Shouldn't that alone be enough to have a small probationary period or possible juvenile delinquent penalty at a Juvy institution because the school system allow and show that material?

    April 8, 2009 at 12:11 pm |
  67. TCabo

    Yes, but not as Adult Sex Offenders unless they are over age 18 and sending pictures of underage kids. Don'e be mistaken. These are stil just KIDS. They need guidance and instruction on what is appropriate. I like what Mr. Skumanick in Wyoming did. It seems most appropriate.

    I am the parent of 4 children and 5 grandchildren. All of whom I am very proud of. If I had any inkling that any of them were acting in this manner I would have taken away their phones.

    Nude sexual photos of underage kids is NOT INNOCENT!

    April 8, 2009 at 12:01 pm |
  68. les

    YES! YES! YES! You don't get it , you poor ingnorant people! Here's the deal , kids are much smarter than you give them credir for, they know what's right and what's wrong, if you don't believe me try the stove test. Ask them to put their hand on a burner on a stove that is turned on , is they don't pass , then yes, they need help.
    POINT 1. the ACLU has no say in this issue, you did the crime, now do the time.
    POINT 2. what values is the mother trying the 12 y/o to uphold, showing herself in various stages of clothing? PLEASE, charge the mom!
    POINT 3. NO< NO< NO< I don't think that they should be charged as sex offenders BUT they NEED to be charged before they get out of control and if you haven't read the news lately, LOT"S of them are!!

    April 8, 2009 at 11:59 am |
  69. Ryan

    Well the problem that I see with allowing Teens to take pictures and NOT break the law is what then happens if these pictures pop up on the web and adults get ahold of it? Then are you going to charge the adult with Child Porn? Thats not entirely fair.....especially since it wasn't them that took the pic's. So either you have to say "This is child porn and is illegal regardless of age!" OR "This isn't child porn period!". You can't have it both ways. So if you are going to say this isn't child porn then you need to draw the line as to what IS Child Porn and what isn't. It needs to be a very specific line....like if the child is over 14 or over 16 then it's not child porn, AND it needs to be a Federal law NOT left up to the state OR they have to be similar. The problem is our sex laws are a bit behind the times. Teens are having sex, and some are having sex with adults like teachers, coaches and other adults.....so we will need to take a look at these laws as well. So this is going to open up a big can of worms.

    April 8, 2009 at 11:57 am |
  70. Peter

    The person should face some sort of punishment but automatically being placed on the Sex Offenders List is a bit too much. I think we need to look at each case to determine the severity of the crime.

    April 8, 2009 at 11:38 am |
  71. Liam

    The district attorney George Skumanick Jr who threatened to file charges against the 12 year old kids, compared sexting to robbing a bank. And you know what? He is absolutely right. sexting is a crime and these children should be sent to prison.

    April 8, 2009 at 11:37 am |
  72. Lynn

    Well, this is ONE way to shut the bloody ACLU right out of the equation. NOW they can't charge this judge with anything.

    Then ACLU said that sending kids to counseling for this crime was against their rights – so to circumvent that, SEND THEM TO PRISON or charge them with sex crimes, make them register and ruin their lives.

    Take THAT – ACLU!!!!

    April 8, 2009 at 11:37 am |
  73. Bryan

    This is ridiculous. What is wrong with people....how is this a crime? People need to chill out and stop trying to control every aspect of life. My God! These prosecutors should be disbarred, and these cops fired.

    April 8, 2009 at 11:36 am |
  74. Rich

    Absolutely not. I took health classes in the 5th or 6th grade that taught me about my health and body – including sexualty. Sexting education should be included here. Parents should also take on the responsibility when they get their kids a cell phone. And making them register as a sex offender? Doing so will seriously dilute the listing and turn it into a big joke. We need to register those that are truly a danger to our children – not these teens that use poor judgement. Growing up is all about making mistakes and learning from them. It seems that our society would rather punish them and scar them for life than to teach them appropriate behaviour.

    April 8, 2009 at 11:31 am |
  75. Matt Ryan

    No. After reading the comments posted by some of the respondents to this article I can see why this country is no longer the "land of the free" but only the home of angry moralistic idiots who have lost all common sense and only want to punish and throw people in jail, rather than educate and really solve problems that provide real protection. These people are so quick to judge and throw someone in jail or stigmatize them for life as long as it isn't them or someone they love. What a sad world we live in now.

    April 8, 2009 at 11:30 am |
  76. Anthony

    This is a case where the law does not address the actual activity. The predator law was meant for a greasy haired old man driving the white van trolling around school yards looking for victims.

    Are these children innocent? No, not totally. But they are not sexual predators either. They are foolish, immature individuals, who in most cases have their lives ahead of them. Should they be punished? Yes, a misdemeanor at most. Required to surrender the cell phone and forbidden to possess or use another for some specified period (6 months?). Required to take education classes to become more aware of the consequences of their actions.

    DAs who enforce the current laws to the fullest are only people looking to make a name for the next election. Use some common sense here, people.

    April 8, 2009 at 11:29 am |
  77. Scott

    Sexting is a crime and should be punished, HOWEVER law enforcement officials should look at sexting case by case. When a young boy or girl are showing each other pictures of themselves and get caught there should be punishment but jail time is no solution and being put on the sex offenders list is way to harsh of a punishment for something so little.

    April 8, 2009 at 11:28 am |
  78. Barry

    Regarding the whole issue of "sexting", and the current technology available for communication and 'play'... some questions:

    What if a ‘minor’ takes a picture of himself/herself, is that child pornography?

    Can a ‘child pornography’ possession be leveled against someone who has taken a private photograph of themselves naked?

    If it is, does that mean all minors should not look at themselves naked? Shower and dress only in absolute darkness?

    If that picture is not child pornography, does it instantly become child pornography upon viewing by any others? What if the others are minors, or the same sex?

    If another minor viewed a photograph taken by a minor of himself/herself, are they guilty of viewing child pornography?

    What if the supposed photograph is of the same gender; that is – a minor male viewed by another minor male? Is this “consumption” of child pornography?

    Do we then age separate all males from all males, and all females from all females in situations where they need to become unclothed, because of seeing another naked person construes viewing child pornography? What about High School locker rooms, YMCA locker rooms, etc. where adults are typically also present?

    A man/woman can see fully naked minors in these locker rooms all the time, but if they were to see the same in a photograph, this is child pornography?

    While all you legal minds, “educated professionals” and even zealots debate and ponder this for time and memorial, perhaps someone should acknowledge that there simply is no one situation where all rules can be uniformly applied. Can someone please bring REASON into this debate?

    April 8, 2009 at 11:25 am |
  79. Theresa

    This is not a black and white issue, young girls...and at 15,16 years old we are talking about GIRLS, are routinely taken advantage of by men, at 18, you are a man...if they receive naked pictures of a 15 year old child should delte them not pass them out to their friends, it is child pornography and once it gets on the net the GIRLS will be forever damaged, there is no taking it back, EVER...apply for a job there's the photo, following you around everywhere you go. Maybe if both girls and boys know that their are SERIOUS consequences for such behavior, it will stem the tide

    April 8, 2009 at 11:25 am |
  80. Bill

    Ofcourse I dont agree that these teens that do this should have to register as sex offenders but I dont think anyone is looking at the real picture here. Is a crime really taking place? Is there a legal diffinitive explanation of exactly what constitutes pornograpy in any state? Playboy, Hustler, Penthouse, all sold on news stands and in stores all across America. I just looked up Playboy.com and found naked women on line, video's for sale. Now who defines what is pornography? I dont think the child pornography laws in any state are diffinitive! What people in every state need to do is get active to do just exactly that. Sign petitions, Lobby, talk to your state representatives, get involved in your state and federal political systems and get this issue resolved before more kids are illegally judged! I know, there are some people that are going to argue that a judge knows the law. Sorry to disappoint you but the only thing a judge can do is follow the current law, so change it.

    April 8, 2009 at 11:24 am |
  81. Natalie

    NO! This is their business if send these messages. There is no criminal intent. They are using technology and the laws that we have are currently not up to date on technology. I believe that if the person who sends this knows what they are doing, but if you send them to a mess of other people you should be punished. But not as much as a fine, and community service. But this people who are put on the sex offenders list is bogus and completely stupid.

    April 8, 2009 at 11:14 am |
  82. Bill

    Prosecuted or not, teens must receive discipline for these actions. It's against the law first off. Secondly, look at the consequences of "sexting"! One girl killed herself, one 18 year old is now a sex offender, and many more high schoolers are facely severe consequences. But that doesn't mean we should change the law to fit their "culture." "Sexting is treated as child pornography in almost every state and it catches teens completely offguard because this is a fairly natural and normal thing for them to do. It is surprising to us as parents, but for teens it's part of their culture." (Alpert's attorney quotation from 'sexting' article). 'Sexting' consequences catching teens off guard is a fault of the parents just as much as the teens. Parents must raise children up to think about their actions, and the truth consequences do exist. Too often parents raise children up trying to give them the best, and I can't fault them for that, but they tend to forget discipline, one of the more important factors in raising children. No, parents couldn't have seen 'sexting' as coming, no one could, but that doesn't excuse them. They are responsible for their children. But this attorney goes so far as to suggest that we should excuse teens because it's "part of their culture." The question we should ask is how did this even get to be their culture, and should it continue? This attorney, and maybe I am interpretting incorrectly, wants us to allow teens to carry on these ways without even a slap on the wrist. Again I point to parents and those responsible for the up bringing of these and future teens. How much will we let them get away with ? Not every 'sext' message sent sees immediate consequence, but I can assure everyone that future consequences are inevitable. This is an issue of the heart, and it enrages me to think that parents and those responsible for these children are willing to compromise their principles for this teen culture and those principles. We can want the best for our teens and children, but to do this we must first instill the core principles and virtues along with discipline. Letting teens get away with things now may give them an immediate benefit, but the long term consequences will be much worse.

    April 8, 2009 at 11:11 am |
  83. SusanB

    I have mixed feelings – if a nude photo is sent to someone and they forward the photo to others – yes, they should be punished, but not put on the sex offender registry. Most troubling of all is the fact that girls are the ones taking and sending the photos and they don't seem to think that it's wrong to send nude photos of themselves – neither do a lot of their parents. Guys are only going to do what we girls allow them to do! There are so many other ways that teens can "flirt" or have "fun" without sending nude photos. What has happened to our society and morals?

    April 8, 2009 at 11:11 am |
  84. melissa

    I read this article and also saw the kid Adam's story on Rachael Ray. This is terrible what happen to this kid. I can not believe all of the real dangerous sex offenders that are out there and what the law did to this kid. His life is ruined now it will be hard for him to ever get a job or progress in life as a normal person because of a childish innocent act. Yes he did something wrong but there must be some sort of punishment that is not this harsh. We have all done things as kids that were stupid and wish we could take back. Also what about the girls that take their picture or allow this picture to be taken, if you are going to hold one responsible should you not hold the other. and who is the real victim? The girl may be a victim of Adam's poor choices. but he is a victim of the law trying to make an example of some one. Sexting is such a new thing, and no one really knows how to handle it and what the proper laws are. it is just a shame that a young kid has to be the guinea pig.

    April 8, 2009 at 11:07 am |
  85. Jackie

    This is where common sense and morals meet. I don't believe these kids should be prosecuted, but educated on what kind of damage this can cause. Another way of curing the problem take away the cell phones, start parenting again. These cell phones weren't intended to replace parental supervision and responsibilities. I see to many parents say "it doesn't matter where my kid is as long as I can reach them on their cell" What is that teaching our kids. This has happened to my daughter, a friend of hers took a picture of them together at a slumber party in their bras. Lucky for me and my daughter the other girls parents always check their daughters phones for images and text messages and recieve a print out of everything they use their phones for.

    April 8, 2009 at 11:05 am |
  86. concerned

    It feels like there is something wrong with the sex offender statute. Charging children with child pornography? Essentially, the children are being charged under a statute that was designed to protect them as a class. It is my understanding that there may be an underlying constitutional issue with these charges.

    April 8, 2009 at 11:03 am |
  87. Grace

    No. It is a complete waste of time and resources. Hello, we are talking teens here – some of them very young teens. It's too ridiculous for words.

    April 8, 2009 at 10:55 am |
  88. Chrissy

    I do not believe they should be prosecuted. If they were coaxed into doing the photo's that is different. But to take them and send them to their friends or bf/gf then no. The laws need to catch up with technology.

    April 8, 2009 at 10:54 am |
  89. KGM

    YES BECAUSE THEY HAVE NO BUSINESS DOING IT. IT IS NOT ACCEPTABLE BEHAVIOR AT ALL!! THESE PICTS USUALLY END UP IN THE WRONG HANDS ANYWAY. WHY CREATE PROBLEMS FOR YOURSELF??

    April 8, 2009 at 10:53 am |
  90. J Smith

    Absolutely! It is a crime. They are all old enough to know better.

    April 8, 2009 at 10:52 am |
  91. Amy

    No! What a ridiculous way to interpret a law that is designed to protect children! Honestly, can't people think in a logical manner anymore?

    April 8, 2009 at 10:43 am |
  92. Conrad Shull

    NO!

    And, ALL DAs who bring these charges should be banned from ANY public office for life! My contempt for those who bring these charges has no limits.

    April 8, 2009 at 10:38 am |
  93. Ruttiger

    Our great nation and it's laws are based on the fact that, "all men are created equal," not, "all men are created fairly." In order to have equality, all rules must be enforced regardless of age, gender, creed, religion, ethnicity, etc...As an 18 year old adult, I realize this and act accordingly. I'm not able to send sexy photographs of an attractive 16 year old to my friends...so why should a 16 year old be able to. It's discrimination based on age and social "norms" if we allow it to go unpunished. I think lewd or indecent exposure is something that should go on your record and that should be pursued if a teen, or younger, is found "sexting," but I do wonder where we draw the line though...are nude pictures of your newborn baby sent to the baby's grandparents considered child porn as well?

    April 8, 2009 at 10:35 am |
  94. Erky

    Jeff,
    if a person under the age of consent were to touch themselves "down there", should they be charged with child molestation and be forced to register as a sex offender?

    April 8, 2009 at 10:31 am |
  95. Erky

    This is an unintended consequence of the laws as they stand, and it's absolutely unacceptable. They were put in place to protect kids, not to punish them. If a teenage girl takes a picture of herself and sends it to her boyfriend, she can be charged with producing child pornography. And the boyfriend can be charged with possession of child pornography. This is absolute insanity. What needs to happen the parents need to sit down with them and have a little talk.
    I don't see why the law needs to get involved here.
    It's obvious that current laws need to be adjusted, since prosecutors don't seem to have any common sense or conscience whatsoever in determining which cases to pursue.

    April 8, 2009 at 10:28 am |
  96. Jeff

    This sort of activity is against the law, as it should be. Minors should not be engaging in pornographic material whatsoever. These people know they are breaking the law and they do it anyway. They should be held accountable for their actions and should recieve no special treatment. After a few more young people are forced to register as sex offenders, teens will reconsider sending pornographic images over the internet. That, or they will stop submitting them to pornographic websites for others to view – this usually happens when guys break up with their girlfriends and want to get even.

    April 8, 2009 at 10:26 am |
  97. Hunter

    No, I don't think they should be prosecuted. A waste of resources and time. Not to mention that it ruins a young persons life. There are more important things law enforcement need to spend their time on.

    April 8, 2009 at 10:24 am |
  98. Diaa

    Parents and 'kids' need to be educated. (You've always known 18 was a crucial year for taking responsibility).

    You're not going to change society.

    Look around. The exploitation of young women is an enormous problem worldwide and it's getting worse.

    You need to understand and respect your own personal worth and that of your friends.

    And if that's not enough, check out Dr. Margaret Meeker's book, 'Epidemic; How Teen Sex is Killing our Kids'

    Everyone is hurt by casual, meaningless 'standards'.

    Life is not a sitcom.

    And you're not a kid anymore.

    Good luck!

    April 8, 2009 at 10:22 am |
  99. Tim

    I do not beleive they should be charged with a crime or required to register as a sex offender. They can be required to go to a program and be educated about the dangers of this behavior, but to ruin their lives accomplishes nothing for our society.It is an overreaction that is typical of how we punish people for non violent crimes in this country. Let's use some common sense to make the situation better and focus on the real sex offenders whoa re a threat to children.

    April 8, 2009 at 10:13 am |
  100. waylon

    NO NO NO. Evidently we have no rights anymore. If a teenager chooses to send pictures of themselves naked then thats there business. If the person recieving those pictures is offended then they can go to the police and press charges for indecent exposure. If anyone should be charged with a crime in this situation it should be the kids parents. It was their lack of parenting and teaching self respect that caused this mess.

    April 8, 2009 at 10:11 am |
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