Thursday, December 10, 2009

How should we react? Legal ramifications for illicit online behaviors

The phenomenon of teenagers sending nude or semi-nude photos via text message, or posting suggestive or explicit materials online has only just recently become a heated topic for debate. There are currently no laws that are specific to the act of teenagers sending or posting these types of images. Instead, some states have turned to child pornography laws as a way to deter students from sending or retaining these types of images. Here is an example of one such case. Many argue that it is too harsh to charge teenagers with child pornography infractions. The argument is that child pornography laws are drafted to keep minors safe from adult predators. They are not designed for minors engaging in somewhat innocent (if incredibly misguided) behaviors.

Talk to your children about why they should never engage in illicit behaviors online. Make sure they know that these actions, while they may seem innocent, are illegal, and that other teenagers like them have been charged with possession or distribution of child pornography. Make sure that they understand that images posted online or sent via text cannot be retrieved - They will no longer have control of who sees (or sends) their photo. Make sure they understand that if someone sends them a photo, they should delete it immediately, and they should never send nude or semi-nude photos of themselves or anyone else. Most of all, be understanding - Most teenagers cite peer pressure as one of the major factors in engaging in these behaviors. Make sure that your children or students understand that it is okay not to give into this pressure.

Here is a link
to a pediatrician's tips for how to talk to your children:

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