Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Sexting Hailstorm

Sexting. A media-created word that basically refers to sex texting. It's the sassy little verb that describes minors exchanging sexually explicit text messages, photos or videos via cellphone. The fact that it's now in the spotlight could be attributed to a perfect storm of events:  Oprah's show dedicated to the subject, teen suicide attributed to the aftermath of sexting gone horribly wrong and recent cases were sexters (not sure if that's a word yet) are charged with possession and/or dissemination of child pornography. However, my instincts tell me that it's been lurking around the schoolyard ever since little Billy and little Sally got their first text-enabled cellphones for Christmas. They're watching us and shaking their heads as we become alerted to this "new" phenomenon, as we move from concerned parent to phone-confiscating lunatic. The conversation bubble over their head reads, "You are so lame."  They could be right on this one.

Nobody wants their children to be hurt or abused.  We want them to make sound decisions, to be respectful of themselves and to others.  To do the right thing.  To not take photos of themselves in nothing but their underwear and send them to their One True Love who has a shelf life of about two to four weeks. But they might. And if they do, is that not freedom of expression? Ugh, I can hear the angry mob gathering outside my house on that one. But legally speaking, if my daughter takes a sexually explicit photo of herself, then her actions are consensual and she is free to send them to whomever she wants. To be as dumb as she wants. She would be guilty of lots of things, but child pornography shouldn't be one of them. Of course, the law would be interpreted differently for the person who then passes that photo on to somebody who was never intended to receive it.  

I guess my point is that we should all catch our breath before we register our teens as sex offenders. I'd like to save that classification for the pedophiles, predators and sadists who deserve the stigma. 


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