In a recent press release on the 1st Judicial District Website in Colorado – Scott Storey – the elected DA – approaches the increasing problem of Sexting with a reasoned eye – recognizing that which most experts in the field understand – it is a matter of “growing up” and “coming of age” .. that leads to an understanding of the proper boundaries between the genders. It is not a sex offender crime in most cases.
In the following reprinted web page – DA Storey explains his reasoning.
He is to be commended for his common sense and not knee jerk response – as is often the case in this area.
Sexting Balancing the Law, Teens and Technology
The District Attorney’s Office has developed a new approach to “Sexting.” This precarious pastime, a growing phenomenon with young people, is sending sexually explicit photos and video of themselves over the Internet. The combination of teenagers’ age-old sexual curiosity, bad judgment and their love of modern electronic data sharing can have devastating consequences.
In March 2009, a Cincinnati teen committed suicide after sexually explicit photos she sent to her boyfriend were emailed to others after they broke up. The teen was humiliated and harassed at school. She was miserable and became afraid to even go to school. In desperation, she took her own life.
“It is critical for parents to know what “Sexting” is and just how pervasive it is,” says District Attorney Scott Storey. “We all have to work together as a community to stop this dangerous behavior.”
One in five teens admits to taking nude or semi-nude photos of themselves and sending them to someone or posting them online. None of these teens ever consider the possible repercussions. Those photos are not retrievable from cyberspace. They never think that the trusted friend or boyfriend to whom the explicit photos were sent or their “friends” on their social networking site would ever pass them on.
Teens also never consider the fact that Sexting is illegal if the photographed person is under 18 years of age. It is illegal to possess the naked pictures, and an even more serious offense, to send them or post them online.
The District Attorney’s Office has tools and tips for parents on their website hoping to prevent Sexting.
The DA in Jefferson and Gilpin Counties has developed a protocol to use in some of these cases as they are presented by law enforcement. “Often the conduct is more of a boundary problem than a sex offense, but we have to be the ones to make that determination,” says Storey.
“We developed a special curriculum to address teenage boundary issues without charging the teen with a sex offense. But make no mistake, having naked pictures of any teen under 18 on your cell phone or MySpace page is a crime which can result in serious consequences including sex offender registration.”
We strongly encourage parents to interact with their kids and their online activities. Supervising your kids in cyberspace is not snooping or invading their privacy, its just good parenting.