SHADMIA'S WORLD

Just Another Guy with Opinions

Sexting Teens face Child Porn Charges

Posted by shadmia on January 16, 2009

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Sexting is one of those words that you will probably not find in the dictionary, not yet anyway. Born from the convergence of sex and text messaging, it has become a widespread phenomena among young teens, where nude or partially nude pictures are sent via cellphones.

Sexting is what landed six students – 3 girls aged 14 to 15-years-old and 3 boys aged 16 to 17-years-old –  at Greensburg Salem High School in Greensburg, Pa., in serious trouble with the law: They all face child porn charges. The girls are accused of taking nude or semi-nude pictures of themselves and sending them to three male classmates via their cellphones.

The female students face charges of manufacturing, disseminating or possessing child pornography while the boys face charges of possession of child pornography.

It all began when school officials seized a cell phone from a male student who was using it in violation of school rules and found a nude photo of a classmate on it. Police were called in and their investigation led them to other phones containing more photos. The school district issued a statement saying that the investigation turned up “no evidence of  inappropriate activity on school grounds … other than the violation of the electronic devices policy.”

Capt. George Seranko, of the Greenburg police said that the first photograph was “a self portrait taken of a juvenile female taking pictures of her body, nude.”

The police decided to file child pornography charges to send a strong message to other minors who might consider sending such photos to friends.

“It’s very dangerous,” Seranko said. “Once it’s on a cell phone, that cell phone can be put on the Internet where everyone in the world can get access to that juvenile picture. You don’t realize what you are doing until it’s already done.”

However one Philadelphia defense attorney, Patrick Artur, thinks the police have gone too far. He said the prosecution of minors for photos they took themselves runs counter to the purpose of both state and federal child pornography laws: Preventing the sexual abuse of children by “dirty old men in raincoats.

“It’s clearly overkill,” Arthur said. “… The letter of the law seems to have been violated, but this is not the type of defendant that the legislature envisioned” in passing the statute.

Under Pennsylvania law there is no mandatory minimum sentence for child pornography, so even if the teens were convicted they would not necessarily face the prospect of jail time. But nevertheless a conviction would carry very serious consequences – including forcing them to register as sexual offenders for at least 10 years.

According to a national study, by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, most teenagers who were sending the explicit messages were sending them to boyfriends or girlfriends, while others said they were sending the pictures in a bold move to secure a date, or to someone they had got to know online.

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In fact the study found that sexting starts at a young age and becomes more frequent as teens become young adults. The survey was conducted among 653 teens (ages 13-19) and 627 young adults (ages 20-26)—between September 25, 2008 and October 3, 2008. The complete report can be found here. Some of the findings were:

How many teens say they have sent/posted nude or semi-nude pictures or video of themselves?

  • 20% of teens overall
  • 22% of teen girls
  • 18% of teen boys
  • 11% of young teen girls (ages 13-16)

How many young adults are sending or posting nude or seminude images of themselves?

  • 33% of young adults overall
  • 36% of young adult women
  • 31% of young adult men

How many teens are sending or posting sexually suggestive messages?

  • 39% of all teens
  • 37% of teen girls
  • 40% of teen boys
  • 48% of teens say they have received such messages

How many young adults are sending or posting sexually suggestive messages?

  • 59% of all young adults
  • 56% of young adult women
  • 62% of young adult men
  • 64% of young adults say they have received such messages


Authorities have been taking an increased interest in sexting resulting in many young people facing arrest and prosecution for sending and receiving the obscene messages. Jim Brown, a school officer at Glen Este High School in Ohio said:

“If I were to go through the cell phones in this building right now of 1,500 students, I would venture to say that half to two-thirds have indecent photos, either of themselves or somebody else in school.”

He said that what started as a bit of fun was starting to have severe consequences, ranging from humiliation at school when the pictures are spread amongst students, to the loss of jobs or college scholarships after the photographs are posted on websites. When kids are 14 or 15, Brown said, they don’t often make the right decisions.

“They think, ‘I have the right to decide what’s best for me.’ The next thing you know, it’s on YouTube, and you become an international star because you’re exposing part of your body. … Then, they want to retrieve their good reputation, and they can’t.”

Jim Brown also says that parents have a role to play by paying more attention to their kids’ use of technology. “It’s ‘Kids Gone Wild,’ with technology being provided by the parents,” he said.

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One Response to “Sexting Teens face Child Porn Charges”

  1. […] sex abuse. The crimes range from rape, gross sexual imposition, sexual imposition, pornography and even “sexting” – forwarding lewd images on cell phones. Hinkle said she has seen children as young as 10 or 11 […]

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