Teen Posting Naked Images of Self on the Internet is a) a SEX OFFENDER? or b) other

ABC News: Inside the Minds of Teens Who Post Sexual Images of Themselves.
“Article starts: Despite specific warnings from prosecutors, the 15-year-old Ohio girl who was arrested last week and accused of sending nude pictures of herself to classmates probably doubted that she could ultimately be forced to register as a sex offender under state law, psychologists and Internet experts say.”


No. No, of course she doubted that she could ultimately be forced to register as a sex offender under state law.
The girl in question is probably many things to many people, but she is unlikely to be an abject moron to the extent that she believes that several years in juvvie detention is a rational consequence of nude self portraits.
Teens posting pornographic pictures of themselves is troubling (to me anyway), and may well be a symptom of ‘the Pornification of American Culture’ and national obsession with 15 minutes of tawdry Reality TV Fame. No contest.
Many teens would benefit from a a dose of responsibility or forethought
or modesty or discretion or etc. No contest.
Here is what I don’t get. My understanding is that part of the reason that child pornography is such a wicked crime is because it is taking advantage of children (under 18) who are not able to legally consent or properly understand the implications of their employ even if they did consent. So teens as the *subject* of teen-pornography are the *victims* for the afore mentioned reasons (amongst others). They are not accessories to the crime. They are victims of abuse.
When teens are distributing pornographic images of *themselves* then, how are they magically able to be criminally liable as a perpetrator of the same crime where they are also the not-criminally liable subject/victim?
Now I don’t think that nudity is fundamentally baddirtyobjectifying, or that this naked picture posting is so widely divergent from sexual exploration or expression, and nobody ever got pregnant or herpes from being looked at. But it remains that you cannot control an image on the internet, and these things do have a social impact, and frankly, this might just be me but if you are going to circulate an image globally, why do it for free? I mean, chances are nobody looking at that image has done me any favors.
…this leaves aside the sheer illogicality of persecuting these kids.
If anything they need therapy or at least a crash course in “following an action to a logically conclusion before committing said action”. In my (limited) experience working with “at risk” youth, all kids learn from juvvie hall is macramé and how to hotwire cars.
Incarcerating, let alone registering these kids as sex offenders dose them or society no good. The only people I can even fathom it benefitting is main-stream pornographers.
Don’t ask me what good they’ve done lately to be the benefactors of such legislative largess.
cross posted at Citizen Girl

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14 Comments

  1. Hara
    Posted October 16, 2008 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    Hopefully her lawyer will see it the way you have and defend her accordingly.
    She hasn’t been convicted of anything yet, has she?

  2. Hara
    Posted October 16, 2008 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    Also wondering where the parents are in this?
    Aren’t they ultimately responsible for their child unless she is being tried as an adult?

  3. miki_mouse
    Posted October 16, 2008 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    Hara: I don’t know where the parents are, and I sincerely hope they are not trying her as an adult because there is a contradiction with that. If they try her as an adult, then how can she be charged with child pornography–since the person in the photographs is considered an adult by the court? Actually, if they do try her as an adult, that would be a really good argument for her lawyer to make!
    I think this whole case is ridiculous. From what I’ve read, the prosecutor is trying to make an example of this girl, to discourage other teens from putting pics of themselves on the internet. And I think that a lot of people are agreeing with this because they strongly feel what this girl did is wrong. But being ‘wrong’ doesn’t make it illegal. Lots of people think two consenting 14 year olds having sex is wrong, and they would never want their kids to do that, but it does not mean it is illegal! And if this 15 year old can have sex with other 15 year olds legally, then it really shouldn’t be illegal for her to send naked pics of herself to the 15 year olds.

  4. nattles_thing
    Posted October 16, 2008 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    I heard about this a while ago. It’s dumb.
    In California, you can legally charge both participants if you catch two underage kids having sex. It’s very rare, but it’s still stupid, and, like this, totally missing the point of the law. Somehow the kids are getting charged for taking advantage of themselves.

  5. Rachel_in_WY
    Posted October 16, 2008 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

    The other disturbing thing about this is that it’s another result of one of the two forms of female sexuality that’s pushed on girls by the media right now. At this end of virgin/whore dynamic it’s all about the male gaze and male desire, at the expense of female desire and sexual autonomy. It’s like female sexuality has been reduced to a spectator sport and service industry combined. This is the only way to explain how many teen and preteen girls are giving blowjobs and other sexual favors with absolutely no expectation of reciprocality. And polls show that more and more teen males are expecting this as the norm, and state that they would never “orally pleasure their partner” even though they expect it as a matter of course. I can’t even imagine how I would have responded to this as a teenager. Maybe like this, “seriously, I don’t get to cum but you do? Fuck that!” And so help me God that’s how my girls will react when they’re old enough to be sexually active too.

  6. followingthru
    Posted October 17, 2008 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

    I’m going to start off saying that I don’t know anything about this case. I’ve read the article linked above, and then I googled it to find a somewhat better article, because the one linked above says next to nothing.
    It doesn’t sound like anyone else who has chimed in really knows anything about it either. For example, whether the girl has a criminal history, or what the prosecutor’s actual plan of action is.
    There are other ways to proceed than to seek a conviction at all costs – and it may be much easier to get someone counseling, especially if they can’t pay for it, if they are involved in the criminal justice system. I certainly don’t know what the prosecutor’s office is going to do, but it is best not to jump to conclusions.
    While the argument that she can’t be both charged with child porn and be tried as an adult may be cute and clever, but it is not likely to win anything. Anyway, it appears to be the case that she is going to be treated as a juvenile, from this article: http://www.clevelandleader.com/node/7219
    I also have something to say about the claim that it is stupid for it to be illegal for two underage people to have sex together. Just because they are both minors doesn’t mean that one of them isn’t taking advantage of the other. And one of the foundations of the laws against having sex with minors is that the minor is not legally capable of giving consent. Why would they suddenly be capable of giving consent by virtue of the fact that the other person involved is also a minor? Would it make any difference to you if one of them was 1 year older? 2 years? Much more popular? Much richer?
    Also – there is usually a difference in the law – it is a different crime for someone to have sex with a minor if they are, for example, within 5 years of that minor than if they are much older. In my state, it is a misdemeanor instead of a felony.

  7. followingthru
    Posted October 17, 2008 at 10:21 pm | Permalink
  8. A male
    Posted October 18, 2008 at 1:01 am | Permalink

    http://www.newarkadvocate.com/article/20081008/NEWS01/810080302
    “The section of the law the girl, who is a foster child, was charged with allows parents or guardians to take photos of their unclothed children for a list of acceptable purposes but does not provide an exemption for the child themselves.”
    That’s very interesting. And stupid. There are acceptable reasons for parents or guardians to do so, but none for the minor to do so of themselves? I admit that I (as an adult) took pictures of my nude self out of curiosity when I got a new fangled digital camera (and immediately erased the photos). It was akin to how I used to climb up on the bathroom counter and look at myself in a mirror as a child, not uh huh huh, I’m in porn. So it’s illegal for kids to even be curious?

  9. nattles_thing
    Posted October 18, 2008 at 2:25 am | Permalink

    @followingthru: That’s not what I said.
    Of course one underage person can take advantage of another. What I was objecting to was a law that allows BOTH participants to be charged. That’s stupid.

  10. sentient
    Posted October 18, 2008 at 3:45 am | Permalink

    @followingthru:
    I don’t entirely understand your point.
    The way I see it, minors are no more or less likely to take advantage of one another than adults; furthermore, how do you decide which one is the victim and which the perpetrator? Is the solution really just to punish both of them?
    Furthermore, if neither of them are capable of giving consent punishing them makes absolutely no sense. At this point we are saying they are both rapist and raped, and we are punishing a pair of victim. Basically i think what it boils down to is that the idea is incredibly flawed, and at BEST might be applicable on a case to case basis.

  11. Posted October 18, 2008 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    The thing is I would have brushed it off as a random stupid thing done by random stupid people, but this has happened before. A while ago in FL a teen couple documented a sexual act with a digital camera and sent the pictures from the girl’s account to the boy’s. They were prosecuted and convicted under state child porn laws.
    http://www.boingboing.net/2007/02/20/teen-couple-who-phot.html
    & one of the super screwed up things in the case is the position of the prosecution/majority was that “Further, if these pictures are ultimately released, future damage may be done to these minors’ careers or personal lives. …. Not only can the two computers be hacked, but by transferring the photos using the Net, the photos may have been and perhaps still are accessible to the provider and/or other individuals.”
    http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9588_22-151187.html
    …the majority opinion only gets better from there. I was unaware that people could be prosecuted for things done with property other unrelated people have stolen from them.
    As for the Ohio teen, apparently she’d gotten into trouble for this before? I either dreampt or read that somewhere. In any case, I can assure you all that if I had been doing that when I was 15 and somebody told ME that I could be prosecuted for child pornography I would never have believed them. Because that makes as much sense as that sticker about how masturbation kills kittens, and at 15 I still naively believed that there was some underlying logic to the adult world.

  12. Jane_Awl
    Posted October 18, 2008 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    Sorry: I meant-
    I was unaware that people could be prosecuted for *THEORETICAL* things done with property other unrelated people have stolen from them.

  13. followingthru
    Posted October 19, 2008 at 12:42 am | Permalink

    The main thing I want everyone to think about is that prosecutor’s have a great deal of discretion. So any criminal offense will be charged on a case by case basis. It isn’t as though every technical violation is always charged and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

  14. meeneecat
    Posted October 19, 2008 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    That is absurd that the law says that there are exceptions where parents can take nude pictures of their children but the children themselves can’t take pictures of their own bodies?! What?!
    I don’t think it’s abnormal or unusual for a kid/teen to be curious about something like their own body, in fact I think it’s perfectly normal- especially given all the changes that our bodies go through when we are young. Especially when many kids aren’t even given a comprehensive education about any of these changes (ahem…abstinence only education!)
    However, I do think that its a bit unnerving when kids/teens post or distribute nude pictures of themselves on the internet. Like the original poster said, if anything this is only symptom of the “pornification of american culture”…which includes the comodification of sex and women’s bodies.
    I just think there’s probably so many better ways of dealing with these kinds of issues than criminalization…counseling is the first thing that comes to mind…another way would be working on ways to counteract the destructive “pornification” trend that is leaving young women with impressions that their bodies are a “consumable product” for the sole purposes of sex/male pleasure. Obviously this issue is a tough one…girls are bombarded with so many destructive messages/images…it’s hard to compete with them all: the media, the beauty, porn, and fashion industries.
    IDK, maybe it wouldn’t help all that much given the bigger picture (patriarchy), but I’d love to introduce, as many young girls as possible to feminism!

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