Girl, 14, arrested for child pornography on MySpace.
Following a month-long investigation, authorities in New Jersey arrested a 14-year-old girl for uploading 30 sexually explicit pictures of herself to her MySpace page. The unnamed girl said she wanted her boyfriend to see them but word got out and in March, 2009, she was charged with possession and distribution of child pornography.
If convicted of these charges in adult court, she faces a maximum of 17 years in prison and required registration as a sex offender. She was released to her mother while the case is pending.
In June, 2009, an agreement was reached requiring the girl to serve six months probation and counseling. If she stays out of trouble the charges will then be dropped.
What do you think about this trend among teens and young adults of sending each other naked or partially naked pictures? Other states that have taken action against teens for sexting (by cell phone) include Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Ohio, North Dakota and Connecticut. This may be the first case involving a social networking site.
Do you think this is criminal behavior that calls for incarceration and a lifetime stigma?* Or is it just a form of flirting taken to a higher level because of the e-world we now live in? Should this be a matter for law enforcement and the courts to deal with, or better left to parents and schools to address?
Sex offender registration stems from the 1994 case of 7-year-old Megan Kanka. She was kidnapped, raped and murdered by a repeat sex offender who lived nearby. Megan’s Law requires registration of convicted sex offenders and community notification when an offender moves into your neighborhood. Commenting on the New Jersey girl’s arrest, Megan’s mother, Maureen Kanka, stated that “she needs help, not legal trouble . . . the only person she exploited was herself and she needs intervention and counseling.”
*For more about consequences of sexting, see Phillip Alpert’s story.