Kid, 18, Sends Stupid Photo via Email. Now He’s A Sex Offender

Hi Readers: This is a GREAT column about a truly insane decision by a parent, a prosecutor, a judge and a jury. In other words, by modern day America. (It’s also a good way to remind your teens: Do NOT send sexy photos.) Read it and think how the Puritans are running the ship. — Lenore

61 Responses

  1. The boy was pretty stupid. 14?!?

    Still. This is where common sense should trump blind, blanket laws. Seriously – is he honestly a MENACE to SOCIETY?

  2. *forgot to check the notify box*

  3. over reacting at the best. what I really love is how his penis picture was forwarded at least twice, possibly three times. That’s just disgusting. He should have been yelled at by parents, not arrested.

  4. ya know whats funny? afriend of mine had nip slip accident at the beach and a litttle kid came running up and yelled’your boobie is OUT’ kid must ave been ..5?6 maybe? old enough to understand cause and effect. so it was understandable when after his mother charged up, yelled “‘whore!” in my friends face, and clapped a hand on her sons shoulder and marched him away, he was crying his eyes out yelling ‘ i was just trying to help mommmmyyyy!’ needless to say, i was out of the water and at her side by then, earning me a foul backward glance as well.

    also needless to say we both wore one peices next time. poor kid. but i guess he lerned a valuable lesson; in new york helping is only ok if something is about to get run over.and boobies are evil. or course

  5. As our lawmakers and lawyers do more and more of this, they are going to dilute the term “sex offender” to the point when it’s no longer means anything.

  6. It galls me that we have the chutzpah to call ourselves the home of the free and to think of our country as the epitome of liberty when things like this happen. It’s hard to believe that this is happening at the same time that we are at war with religious fanatics that we criticize for this same kind of behavior!

    It’s just insane no matter which way you examine it. This kid is going to sit on a sex offender list, further watering down any utility it might have had to begin with. He’ll be there for a long time, depending on where he lives (in some places he might be on the rest of his life!).

    I also object to people calling a 14 year old a child when cases like this pop up. By implication those people are equating what happened here to an adult exposing himself to a 6 year old, and they lose all credibility with me immediately. They’re both teenagers, and (big surprise) teenagers are curious about sex. The judge, jury, and the girl’s parents should be ashamed of themselves, but I’m sure they aren’t.

    Crap like this makes me wonder if democracy is actually worth it; a dozen morally self-righteous cretins should not be allowed to ruin this kid’s life.

  7. I don’t have a link to the news article because it was several years ago, btu I seem to remember a teenage boy (maybe 13?) being labeled as a sex offender because he mooned someone from the school bus window.

  8. Maybe if we were less afraid of every sexual implication, of every glimpse of a body part, and simultaniously less encouraging of 9 yr old girls wearing thongs and “juicy” written across their butts, kids would grow up less confused, and we would produce fewer “real” sex offenders.

  9. Real should have been in caps, not quotes.

    Also, I do think teens should have legal protection from preditors, but I wish there were a different set of laws for teens than for children. Lets ignore the question of whether a penis is obscene, and just say for arguments sake that it is. That means legally, this case is identical to sending an obscene photo to a 7 year old. Which is completely ridiculous and obviously not true.

  10. @craig- it already means very little, except for the sad fact that being on the registry means a ruined life.

  11. I can only agree with his blog, but it also leaves me thinking that it will only be a matter of time before klassical art will be only a memory in America.

    Because if what is the difference really between this guys photo and any greek/roman statue? At the moment one is art, and one is not, but only untill the first law-suit

  12. I have 5 teenagers. They have mush for brains.

  13. @lane
    this is an interesting thing, as what is considered art or base is largely determined by social class standing. thus, nudity on stage is art, nudity in movies is base, or obscene. high class call girls can be paid for with credit cards, and work in high priced hotels, and so are acceptable. women who walk the street are criminals who should be in jail. breasts in high art are ‘culture’, breasts in magazines are ‘low’, and need a brown paper wrapper.
    those who are of the higher social classes make the laws, and the laws are written for the ‘common’ person.

  14. forgive… I teach sociology.

  15. What’s the difference between an 18 year old jerk of a teenager sending a photo of his erection to a 14 year old friend and Michelangelo’s David? Come on. A lot. Of course it’s an obscene photo. The question is, should it get you prosecuted and labeled as a sex offender for life, especially when the photo was SOLICITIED? Of course not. But, alas, the more and more we define decency down, the more and more base behavior we deem innocuous as a society, the more and more we label people prudes for objecting to the in-your-face sexuality of the modern world, the more and more people will end up appealing to LAW instead of to common sense and common decency. We see this in sexual harassment cases as well: women trying to enforce through law simple decency by suing over crude sexual jokes and such. It can’t be done. Decency cannot be enforced by law. It has to be simply expected by a majority in society. But the “adults” give up expecting decency (or acting decent themselves) and then get bent out of shape when suddenly “kids” start acting indecent, and turn to the law to enforce what they failed to communicate to their own children.

  16. @Sky – Well said!

    Did anyone else notice in the article that the 18yo is called a kid? He’s legally an adult and should be expected to know better. I’m not saying this should land him on the permanent list of badguys, but it’s also not “no big deal” or “kids being kids.” How can we expect our kids to learn responsibility if we let them continue being considered children until they’re in their 20s?

    And why are the parents who forwarded the picture not being charged with something for sending the exact same “indecent” to others? Is it because the other recipients were adults? I’m 32 and would NOT want to open my email to this surprise….

  17. UM. I wonder what the consequenes would have been had it been an 18 year old female sending pictures of HER breasts to a 14 year old male? Or her HOO-HOO?

    (Wanted to say vagina, would that make me a sex offender?)

  18. forgot to click the notify box oops!

  19. This should have been handled by the parents.
    “Hey, daughter, don’t ask your friends to take pictures of their penises and send them to you.”
    “Hey, son, don’t take pictures of your penis and send it to other people, even if they ask.”
    Done.
    I feel for both of these kids.

  20. I must say, it makes me feel even more firm about my ‘no cell phones’ stance…

  21. Seems common sense is no longer quite as ‘common’ is it once was. I

  22. One can never go poor betting on the ignorance of the american people. As PT Barnum said so well….

  23. I think the angle that this article takes–claiming that a photograph of a boy’s erect penis is not really obscenity–really weakens his whole argument. Of course it’s obscenity.

    I suspect this is an argument that I shouldn’t get into here, but there is a *reason* obscenity and nudity are illegal. There is a reason that pretty much every culture in history has nudity taboos. Our culture is not particularly “puritan” compared to most–quite the opposite–it is hyper-sexualized. Try buying a Halloween costume for your six-year-old daughter that doesn’t say “I’m Candi, fly me.”

    This boy did something patently obscene, and he shouldn’t have, and such things should be discouraged by society. But–here’s why I am back in the Free Range camp, where I always end up anyway–the consequence he received is appropriate for raping an altar boy, not for electronic mooning. What he should have received is a slap on the wrist and a week of community service, not a life-long Scarlet “A”. (See how I’m keeping this Puritan thing going?)

  24. Let’s get this straight: The boy (legally a man) sent a picture -a SOLICITED picture of his penis to a 14-year-old friend (albeit a female friend).

    First off, notice the age gap: FOUR (4) years! That’s not an adult abusing a minor. She would have to be young enough to be his daughter. Last I checked, four-year-old humans do not reproduce.

    Secondly, this picture was sent from one friend to another. If it was a printed photograph sent in envelope, the only difference would be the image would less likely to be eternal, and less likely to be discovered.

    Thirdly, we’re all born naked.

    Fourthly, we’re all sexual beings.

    These two teenagers did NOTHING WRONG; ergo, they should not be punished in any way or form.

    The adults of this affair are the true villains. They reacted badly, they panicked badly, they enforced badly, they punished badly, and they horribly mutilated two good peoples’ lives so they could feel good about themselves –THE GALLING HYPOCRITICAL VANITY OF IT ALL!!!

    Methinks America should be converted into one massive nudist colony so we can get over ourselves.

    Sex and nudity: nothing wrong with either.

  25. Sex is wonderful and America’s puritanical attitudes to sex and nudity are appalling. However, I do believe that it is in the interests of the state to protect children from being taken advantage of by adults when it comes to sex. No definition of what constitutes a child in this context is going to make everyone happy. Some people are wise beyond their years at 14, others are still clueless and easily manipulated at 20. Still the law has to draw the line somewhere. In most developed countries, the line between child and adult is drawn somewhere around 16-18. In addition, most statutes draw another line, somewhere between 12-14, so that sexually soliciting a 14-year-old is classified differently than grooming a 10-year-old. Also common are clauses that make exceptions based on the age difference between the “child” and “adult”. A difference of anywhere from 3 to 7 years is considered acceptable. So, it would appear that, legally, this case was right on the borderline – an 18-year-old and a 14-year-old, a 4-year-difference. Whether it was a crime at all would depend largely on where it occurred. This is where the adults involved should have used common sense.

    A friend confessed to me recently that as a painfully shy 18-year-old he had corresponded online over a period of some weeks with a girl who claimed to be 13. She was the one who steered the conversation toward sex, and she even sent him a naked picture – from the neck down. Then his parents got a call from someone claiming to be the girl’s mother, very upset over discovering her daughter’s correspondence with their son. My friend had to endure a very uncomfortable conversation with his father and avoided girls for a year after that.

    I think it is a good example of parents handling a similar situation with as much sensitivity as a parent under these circumstances can be expected to muster. I also wonder sometimes whether the “girl” and the “mother” were in fact the same person – an undercover cop trawling internet chat-rooms for pedophiles – who chose to do the compassionate thing over making another easy arrest.

  26. @Kenny Actually I agree with you that sending anyone, adult or child, a picture of your genitals, is obscene in any context that I can think of. My guess is they don’t have much choice in argument: I believe it is illegal, period, to distribute obscene material to a minor (in some places this is true even if you are a minor, and if the obscene material in question is of yourself you are also guilty of distributing child pornography). Arguing that the photo doesn’t weaken their case… it’s the only case they had.

    I don’t however agree that our culture is more open about nudity. We send extremely conflicting messages about sexuality in this country: with the skanky costumes you mention juxtaposed with people freaking out at the sight of a nipple. I don’t know how they dress their little girls in Europe (and it is just girls) but people aren’t so upset about nudity or sex on tv (or in the lives of their polititions). At least that’s the impression I’ve got from over here.

    @highwayman I don’t know what makes you think sexual crimes against children are defined by having an age gap big enough for the perpetrator to be a parent. It is perfectly possible for a teen to molest a younger/smaller teen or child, or even for a child to rape/molest a smaller child. This does NOT seem to be what’s happening here, but the impossibility is not a valid argument.

    As for them doing nothing wrong, that’s sort of tricky, isn’t it? It seems to me that the girl was somewhat in the wrong, if only for urging a friend to do something she knew he shouldn’t. The boy was at the very least extremely stupid.

  27. I think there is a BIG difference between receiving a photo of a penis and going beyond that. A picture, okay yeah so the girl would probably be able to get over that, and sure the guy should have known better but really, what else was there? I doubt it was that girl’s first time to request a photo of one, and probably the boy knew that. Sadly, 14 year girls do more than that these days, and vice versa with boys.

    It is sad that it escalated to the point that it did. Sad.

  28. The kid obviously made a big mistake. But requiring him to register as a sex offender for simply complying with a request is over the top. His entire life is ruined over a single REQUESTED picture.

    It should only be considered obscene when the person receiving the image didn’t actually request it.

    The supposed victim probably didn’t even want to see the conviction happen. It’s a sad sad world.

  29. Marty Klein makes a good point. Who is protecting whom? Who is hurting whom? I think there is a case for the young man to answer. But a community-social case, not a criminal case. I think there is a case for the junior female to answer also. And that perhaps suggests a case for her parents to answer. But not onerous. A case of how to get more love, more grounded relationships, into their lives. I know at least two women who married at 14, both to men over 18 years old. One lost her husband to an accident, migrated and raised 5 children on her own. The other in her 50’s is still married to the same man and seems quite strong in her life.
    It points to the absolute inadequacy of a criminal – prison based justice system that is not about justice but about some sort of revenge. In this case revenge for hurting a girl’s father’s feelings. The young man, foolish as he was, becomes a scapegoat for a father and an adult society MIA.

  30. @North:

    Maybe it’s just me, but I think the parents, and the father’s friend should be arrested for posession and disimmination of child pornography. No matter what the intention, if you’re going to be an ass about the law, you should subject yourself to the same law. Anyone wanna sue?

  31. You may not agree but at least give this some consideration as to the extreme religious right being responsible for where we are today with the GOP and and these witch hunts.

    http://tinyurl.com/yctnmur

  32. Sky: I´m 100% with you!

    Everything these teenagers did was disgusting, but come on! If any of them were my kids, I definitely would have handled this business differently.
    What strikes me most is that the girl´s parents don´t seem to trust her at all (and if you don´t think she can manage an e-mail account responsibly, why do you allow her to have one?); but when they get proof that she misbehaves (after all, she was the one asking for the picture), then others are to blame. Not her, and obviously not them.
    So what is the lesson here for the girl to learn? Do whatever you feel like, kid. Go asking for trouble. Step into dark virtual alleyways on the internet and when you DO get in trouble, accuse anyone around you.

  33. I have a good friend with two teenage boys (18 and 19). They are in no way adults. They make stupid decisions all the time. They are, however, good kids. I would hate for either of them to have to pay forever for a brain spasm as a teenager.

    As a responsible parent, she often checks what they have posted online and then explains why it would be prudent to remove some of it. That’s what parents do! They don’t report a kid for underage drinking when they post a pic on Facebook, they tell them to take the picture down so it doesn’t haunt them for the rest of their life.

    What happened to taking responsibility for our own children? Why must the system get involved so often?

  34. Not that it hasn’t already been said in various ways, but:
    “Mr. Canal, are you aware that your son sent a picture of his penis to my daughter? What the heck kind of kid are you raising?”

    “Mrs. So-and-so, my son says your daughter ASKED him for it. I’m not saying it wasn’t completely stupid on his part, and BELIEVE me, we’re dealing with him–but come on! Where is your daughter’s responsibility in this?”

    And then HOLD THE KIDS RESPONSIBLE for their stupid and irresponsible behavior, and let them know exactly what COULD happen if this sort of thing were passed along to the wrong people. Which, sadly, is what happened. SHAME on parents for letting everyone else raise their kids without first taking a crack at it themselves!

  35. I cannot believe that the 18 yo didn’t know better. Come on, people. Man or boy by definition really doesn’t matter – he was definitely old enough to know better. I also think we should give the parents of the girl a little slack. No one wants to open their 14yo’s inbox and find a picture of a penis. (of course, maybe I’m just on a witch hunt. You know us crazy Christians, always out to persecute everybody)

    That said, I do think this went way too far. Once the police found out that the picture was solicited the police should have bowed out and let the parents take over. There is no reason for this guy to be a registered sex offender. Too bad there aren’t “common sense classes” the courts can mandate people to take like anger-management and parent classes. That could have offered a solution everyone could be happy with.

    Cases like this just prove how much we need to communicate with our children about how their actions can be determined as criminal. Hopefully, they’ll listen to us and won’t have to go through what this young man did.

  36. @someone’s comment – there are different laws to deal with teenagers than adults – they’re called statutory laws. however, the vast majority of states don’t have statutory laws to deal with media, like ‘sexting’, emailing, file-swapping, etc., of sexy or stupid/semi-obscene pictures.

    btw – an erect penis is not porn. calling it obscene is a stretch. labeling it obscene puts it in the way of legislation in some states.

    every single person who posted on this thread with a strong opinion can email their legislator or AG and ask for common sense laws around teens sharing images.

    @highwayman – the gap in most states is two years. If the girl was a year older it may have made a difference, also. he is a legal adult, and she is a legal minor. In WA, she’s under the cut-off for statutory offenses, so whatever he was charged with in relation to her, he’d be charged as an adult.

  37. @sueg: Exactly my thoughts. Well said.

  38. I just find myself incensed by reading story after story that come down to “Girl lies/acts lie a fool, boy pays the price” Why are these girls allowed to lie with impunity? Why are the parents of these girls not holding them accountable for their end of the deal? You think the girls are not smart enough to figure “Uh oh. I shouldn’t have done that. But if I act like the victim here I am off the hook!” I’m sorry, but I was a teenage girl once. They are not all sweetness, innocence and light. And no one is doing them any favors by teaching them that they can use their gender to manipulate their way out of trouble.

  39. @BMS In all fairness, I doesn’t sound like the teen in this case either lied or played the victim. Her parents decided all by themselves that she should be a victim. It doesn’t change your point about placing responsibility where it belongs, but the only ones guilty of shifting blame are the parents.

  40. These are probably the same parents who were excusing their kids’ sorry behavior in restaurants when they were toddlers (They’re just chilllldren!) rather than removing them. The ones who blame the teachers for being insensitive when their little darling doesn’t get a good grade (No, it couldn’t be because your child is a dolt who didn’t study). The ones whose child was always the victim of the bully, never the instigator, regardless of the circumstances. (Yes, little Katie teased the other kid mercilessly for 2 weeks but he SHOVED her! He obviously has problems!). I’m sure I will be meeting those parents when I dare to flunk their college age darlings in my engineering class because they will not turn in their work on time. Oh wait, I forgot, mom will be there to wake them up and yell at the mean, nasty professor who obviously has a vendetta going against their precious little snowflake.

    And then the little darling will marry, have children, and start the whole sorry cycle again. Unless grandma raises her kids too…

  41. So does this mean now that if a 14 year old looks up porn online it’s the makers of the websites fault?

  42. Michelle, that’s why these websites ask you to confirm that you are 18 before entering. Does not do a thing to deter teenagers from looking up porn, but it saves the website from a lawsuit.

  43. I was the victim, at 30 years of age, of a sexual predator, also an adult, who went into the bathroom in a public place, took a photo of his penis and showed it to me. I was not able to press charges against him because he did not show me his actual penis. I sincerely wanted to. I absolutely felt a victim.

    There are two differences between my story and the one involving the teens. 1- theirs was a consensual exchange. 2- It was an exchange between an adult and a minor. I do think the punishment on the boy was harsh, ONLY because it was consensual. I feel so sad for him that his life is ruined over what seemed to him to be an innocuous act. However, it doesn’t surprise me that he is being registered as a sex offender because it’s similar to statutory rape. (I also feel the laws there are harsh). I do think he should have gotten MORE than a stern talking to by his parents.

    He was an adult. At what point is it ok to give (even requested) naked pictures to a minor? If it’s ok at 14, what about 13, 12, 11, 10??? At some point it doesn’t matter what age the kid is, the law must step in. I’m also upset that there could be charges pressed against the sender of this image and not the man who victimized me.

    The people who say that the parents who showed the photo around should be punished for distributing child pornography are clearly not understanding the reality here. 18 years old is no longer childhood. Naked photos of an 18 year old is NOT child porn. He is an adult, a foolish one, but an adult. I think you’re all feeling sorrier for him because you still view him as a child.

    I honestly have a hard time faulting the parents of the girl. Are you telling me that you wouldn’t be unbelievably, overwhelmingly upset that your daughter received a sexually obscene photo from an adult? Seriously? Whether she asked for it or not? I can’t imagine not trying to take action against the boy. I think you all think he’s still a child and she’s practically an adult. 14 is young! She’s barely out of childhood! I was interested in sex much younger than 14, of course it’s natural for her to have this curiosity. But that doesn’t mean it’s right for an adult to act on that curiosity.

    This brings up another point to me. When are parents going to start taking the digital age seriously? We need to warn our kids (whether we believe in free range or not) that there are serious, life-long potential consequences to inappropriate actions in the digital world. Threatening people, sexual imagery, etc.. It doesn’t matter if the recipients are your friends and will get the joke. We may not agree with the punishments awaiting them, but this 18 year old should have known about what happens if he engages sexually with a minor whether it be digitally or otherwise. I think HIS parents failed him.

  44. Elizabeth you said “I honestly have a hard time faulting the parents of the girl. Are you telling me that you wouldn’t be unbelievably, overwhelmingly upset that your daughter received a sexually obscene photo from an adult? Seriously? Whether she asked for it or not?”

    Does the girl’s parents know she knows the boy? Does the girl have a previous history of sexual conduct in any form? Are the parents themselves an active force in her life that would have made sure she ever knew requesting something like that is wrong?

    At the age of 14, girls KNOW about differences in body parts. They KNOW what is to be kept private and what is not to be kept private. Does the boy have a previous history of such acts? If not, then this could possibly be just something two friends happened to do, regardless of the ages. Yes in legalese he is an adult, but does being 18 really make one an adult? My father believes in allowing 18 year olds to have a beer or two, after all they are adults and allowed to vote and join the military, are they not?

    I always believed 18 is way too young to be considered an adult, especially if one is still in school.

    I think too much was done on the part of the boy. If he is still living at home, then HELLO, a serious talk among the families is definitely called for, with warnings of possible repercussions if it happened again. After all, they were friends, not some random strangers!

  45. I just thought of something else… she’s not even at the legal age of consent. Age of consent in Iowa is 16. I do think consenting sexual actions between 16 year olds and adults only a few years older should NOT be punished in an extreme way, my heart breaks over some of the stories I’ve heard of consenting older teens caught having sex. Like I said, ruining his life over this act is a bit much, because it was consensual. But I do think some sort of legal punishment is in order. And I ask you to define at what point you would think it’s wrong. Obviously sending this photo (requested or not) would be wrong if she was 7. So what’s the cut off for you? When do YOU think the law should step in?

    As far as his adulthood, if he is old enough to die for our country, choose our next president, I do think he’s old enough to be punished as an adult. Just as he would if would have hurt or killed someone. (And, s.d., I also think he’s old enough to drink. The 21 limit is just stupid in my opinion.) We can’t wait around for emotional maturity to happen before we start making these punishments. Then some people would never be charged for anything as adults. The law has to have some sort of age that is chosen as legally adult.

    We may not be that mature at 18 in our country, but I think it’s because we allow our kids too long to grow up. We let them stay immature as long as they want, don’t put any responsibilities on them, and don’t blame them as adults when they make mistakes. I think part of the free-range philosophy is helping children to mature and become more self-sufficient and take on their own responsibilities. I love that. Think about how mature our children were 50 years ago. Think about how mature they are at 15 in other cultures. It’s not as though they are biologically incapable of being mature.

    The longer we give them to grow up, the longer we coddle them and protect them, the longer they will take.

  46. I am curious, what if it had been a mentally challenged 18 year old male? Mentally challenged 14 yo female? Mentally challenged 18 year old female? 14 yo male?

    One thing I am noticing in this day and age in ANY age group, it is hard to trust people you call “friend”. What is a “friend” really? What constitutes a ‘friendship”, especially when so many TEENAGERS (14 – 19) are “friends”?

  47. Elisabeth, I agree with you that, at 18, this young man is an adult and should have known better, and that we are not doing him any favors by referring to him as a “kid”.

    At 14, the girl is still a child. But the age difference is not so great and 14-year-olds and 18-year-olds hang out together all the time – that’s why many laws now contain an exception for cases when the adult is not much older than the child.

    I agree with you that one cannot really expect a calm measured reaction from the girl’s parents in this case, so it was the police and the judge’s job to learn the details, talk to the young people involved and come up with a punishment that fit the crime. Unless they did that and found evidence, for example, of many other inappropriate exchanges with girls 14 and younger, their punishment is much too harsh and does not serve these young people or the society at large.

    But to equate sending naked pictures with rape? To classify a (clearly very sick) person as a sexual PREDATOR for showing you, an adult woman, a naked picture? There I think you are going overboard. Although I do understand that different people react differently to the same events. The same PG-rated movie my 7-year-old watches and immediately forgets may give her friend nightmares.

    Most of us will have seen other people naked (not always by choice) by the time we are 18, many will have even perused pornography, and few feel traumatized as a result. I think any just law must be based on what the majority of people would find not just upsetting, but clearly disturbing. It must also recognize the fact that we cannot (and should not) protect our children (or the people at large) from everything that might upset them.

  48. BTW the only reason I brought up what happened to me is not because I think they are the same. It was to show the people on here who doubt this as a potentially harmful act that showing one’s genitalia, even in a 2″ square digital image, can be considered, and should be in my mind, an act of sexual assault. I was also just lamenting over the fact that I wasn’t able to press charges myself — at least that’s what the police officer told me.

  49. @Elizabeth Thats why I think there ought to be different laws for children and teens rather than treating them all equally as “minors.”
    in this particular case I’d say legal consequences are warrented but unessesary. It is impossible to legislate for each individual case, or een expect jurors to have common sense, so the law does need to be sort of broad. The warrented legal consequences though, even for the general case, clearly do not line up with the actual consequences. That’s the real problem here, and the problem with treating 14 year old “victims” identically to 7 year old victims.

  50. Elisabeth, I am sorry, but showing another person a picture of anything is not a sexual assault. Putting a gun to their head and forcing them to look at a naked person is an assault because force is used, but it is not a sexual assault. Forcing them to have sex with you (or enticing them to have sex with you if they are too young to give informed consent) is sexual assault. I understand that what happened to you was upsetting but are you really prepared to equate it with a sexual assault?

    s.d., I agree, no law is going to cover all possible circumstances. People mature at different rates. There are a lot of gray areas. I hope that if our children ever find themselves in one of them, they’ll be able to count on us, their friends (and law enforcement, if it came to that) to show compassion and willingness to learn all the facts before taking action.

  51. This is NOT a problem with the parents, the judge, the police, or the jurors. He did in fact break the law as it is currently stated. The problem lies with the law, and the automatic, overblown reactions that go along with it.

    If it’s illegal to wear hats, and you get arrested for wearing a hat, it’s really NOT the cop’s fault you got arrested. We urge for police to show “common sense” but the problem with common sense is that it’s different for everyone. Inconsistant enforcement is SELECTIVE enforcement, and tht can lead to even bigger problems than the unjust laws.

  52. If it is illegal to wear a hat, and you happen to own a hat, and your younger friend asked to wear the hat, do you get arrested for providing the hat or your younger friend get arrested for wearing it? Surely your younger friend already knows it is wrong to wear the hat in the first place but does it anyways. At what point the YOUNGER going to be held accountable for their own actions and choices?

  53. @Anna Just to be clear, force is not a necessary component of assault. It can be any physical contact, it can be a verbal threat, even just particularly violent language. That’s why assault is generally paired with battery.

  54. Meagan,

    The law could definitely use a revision, but I don’t think it is possible to create a law that would fit every case. There are too many gray areas, too many individual circumstances to consider.

    I think by its very nature any law that deals with anything as complicated as teen sexuality must be applied selectively and must allow for a wide range of possible punishments for the same crime – with the actual punishment always decided after careful consideration on a case by case basis.

    Such a system is of course very open to manipulation as well as honest mistakes. Overzealousness or a “boys will be boys” attitude on the part of a cop or prosecutor, overreaction by the parents, a district attorney up for re-election who wants to show he is “tough on crime” or “will protect the children” – all these factors can destroy a young life. But I don’t see a better alternative.

  55. I am thinking, maybe they should start employing mediators or guardian ad litem (sorry I dont know how to spell it ha) to interview each of the TEENS, then decide on punishment from there. If it turns out the eight-TEEN year old knew he was wrong, or had a history of such conduct, or did not know he was doing anything wrong, or it turns out the four-TEEN year old girl knew exactly what was going on and what she was asking for (and if she DID in fact, ask for the pic) they can apply proper discipline measures. For all we know, they have had sexual intercourse in the past, and their relationship is such that it warrants such actions.

    Investigative measures should have been taking based on the particular case at hand.

  56. I have also been the victim of a physical sexual assault (when I was 20) and yes, I am willing to equate the two. It took a lot more time and therapy to “get over” the physical assault, but I felt victimized in a similar, though perhaps lesser, way when the man showed me the photograph.

    I do agree the law needs to be revised. I believe that very young legal adults (i.e. perhaps 18-19) should be able to engage sexually with other teens over the age of consent without too much punishment, provided both participants are truly consenting. But 14 is very young. Yes, it’s different to send this to a 14 year old or 7 year old. But I also think 14 is very different from 16. I remember what I was like at 14, and my niece is 13.5 and I can tell you I was barely out of childhood, and my niece may act like she’s more mature in some circles, but she is really not at an age where I would think she was ready to engage in a sexual act with a man. Whatever prudishness you think our culture has (and I agree on that — I grew up in Europe), sending someone a photo of your erect penis is a sexual act.

  57. s.d. I don’t think that as soon as you can stick a TEEN on the end of your age that you are suddenly capable of engaging in consenting sexual acts with adults who also have a TEEN at the end of their age. I mean a thirTEEN year old with a nineTEEN year old doesn’t seem right to me. Do you remember how old 19 year olds looked when you were 13? They were practically 30!

    I don’t think the mediator is a horrible idea though.

  58. We all have strong opinions over when a child is ready to consent to sex, or what constitutes sexual victimization, but I think they are informed so much by our own experiences that they are by nature very subjective. People mature at different rates, people of all ages react differently to upsetting events in their life. I don’t think we can expect the law to come to the rescue in every case when someone has been hurt. And sometimes we may even need our law enforcement to turn a blind eye in cases when no-one feels victimized even though the law is clearly broken.

    When a naive 17-year-old has been taken advantage of by a 40-year-old scumbag, you don’t call the police – she is legally an adult. (You hope she has a big brother or a father – no, wait, am I advocating mob rule?) On the other hand, when a mature 14-year-old becomes sexually involved with an 18-year-old, you hope she has a mother who knows her daughter best.

  59. As a middle school guidance counselor I have had to deal with this issue recently. The child pornography laws were originally written to protect children from exploitation by adults. Nobody could have dreamed back then that children would be producing pornography of themselves, but we don’t have any laws that take into account the new technology. Kids with cellphones need to be educated that if they send naked pics of themselves around, they could be arrested for distributing child pornography. We did this at my school and the problem abated. As for this case, an 18-year old is an adult. A 14-year old is a minor. Don’t like the law? Work to change it.

  60. @Jill

    +1

  61. When I was 14, I was riding the school bus in the back with all my friends. One of my male friends happened to open up his zipper and pull his penis out on a dare from another friend of ours. My other friends and I were grossed out, and we did tell our moms about it just because of the EWWW factor. But we do not to this day feel in any way exploited or sexually harassed… now we all look back on it and laugh and he knows he did something stupid. Should he have been severly punished? He wasn’t.

    A few weeks later I changed my pants to my shorts under my jacket when no one else was on the bus. I got a stern talking to and a bus ticket. No one even SAW me or new what I was doing.

    Which was the worst?

    and I want to add, MOST 14 year olds in this world, do not have that EEWWWW factor, because they participate in quite a bit of the sexual conduct themselves.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: