I don't find myself agreeing with things in the New York Times very often, but today's article about sexting and legislative bodies around the country dealing with the penalties associated with teens sending nude photos of themselves or others to others or posting them on the Internet actually balanced out and leads me to think there is some merit to changing penalties for doing such.
Should a child who stupidly sends photos of their privates to another be labeled a sex offender? Probably not. Should the person who receives it and then sends it to others or charges others for the photo be guilty of something serious? Probably. But should they be labeled a sex offender? Still, probably not.
The NYT story references a federal ruling last week on a Tunkhannock, PA sexting case where a local DA was stopped from requiring three girls to take a mandatory awareness program. Now I'm not an attorney and I've not seen the court's opinion, but in reading what I've seen, this was less about stopping the DA from prosecuting cases of sexting than it was in how he was dealing with three girls who may not really have been doing what is typically described as such from being punished.
We all live in a Web 2.0 Family world. The world is changing instantly with the developments in technology and it's natural that our traditional laws aren't keeping up. And as parents, we clearly are into new territory that no generation of parents ever have had to deal with. And our digital native children are facing the likes of which we never could have imagined when we were their ages.
The key remains being active parents and being in touch with our kids. We have to work with them to help them understand boundaries because we cannot be there for them every minute of their lives. Part of growing up is making mistakes. What we can all hope and pray for is that our kids don't make mistakes that the whole world will be able to see for years to come.
Kudos to legislative bodies attempting to address these new issues. As noted before here on DaddyClaxton.com, there are 14 states this year, and maybe three or four last year that began addressing the issue of sexting. That leaves more than half still having done nothing to address this issue in their states. Which means there are millions of parents out there who likely aren't addressing this issue at home either. And that's when it gets frightening to think about.