WAVY screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET)
Can the law offer education?
This might be the question that follows the tale of a 16-year-old Virginia girl who has found herself in more trouble than she ever might have imagined.
It all started when the teen allegedly decided to take some nude selfies and post them on Twitter.
She’s certainly not the first to sext. But, as far as the police see it, her case warranted a charge of distribution of child pornography.
As WAVY-TV reports, police say that because she left nothing to the imagination, this constitutes child pornography.
Some local parents wonder how it can be that someone who is legally a child herself can be subject to such a charge.
But the police, who reportedly acted on a tip, insist that this is justice.
Indeed, Stephanie Williams-Ortery of the James City County Police Department told WAVY-TV that anyone who received such a picture and then sent it to someone else could also be charged with distribution of child pornography, regardless of their age.
In the teen’s case, the one relief is that she won’t be treated as a sex offender because of her age.
However, some might really wonder who has suffered here. It is surely the teen herself. Though they have been removed from Twitter, the pictures will always have an online life.
It is she who must live with the consequences more than anyone. Yet here she is being charged with, essentially, causing herself embarrassment.
This is not the first time that a sexting teen has been charged with child pornography. Last month, a teenage girl in Canada was convicted of the offense.
The difference here, though, is that the girl sexted naked pictures of her boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend.
In the Virginia case, there is currently no suggestion that there was anyone else involved, nor that there was any coercion. She is alleged to simply have sent images of herself.
Naturally, police are encouraging parents to be more vigilant about what their children are doing online and with their phones.
But can any good really come from charging a 16-year-old with a crime such as this?
It may well be that self-display is one of the essential components of the sharing world. Technology makes it easy. Teens don’t always think straight.
This girl, more than anyone, surely now knows the mistake she allegedly made.
Can being brought before a judge offer anything that resembles justice? Or is education and counseling a far more sensible path?
Experts told WAVY-TV that it’s possible that the girl will get jail time. However, she (and her parents) may simply be told to complete a Sexting Education Program.
The mere concept that a teen can be guilty of child pornography when real, adult child pornographers are the true menace seems far-fetched.
It suggests that this is another area where the law is still trying to catch up with the ramifications of technological development and its many traps and pitfalls.
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Teen charged with child porn for allegedly tweeting nude selfies
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