Children today are unknowingly falling foul of the law. A couple of high-profile cases from America have come to our attention. In this article, we wish to highlight some essential information to enable you as a parent and your children to make better decisions.
A 16-year-old girl in the state of Maryland, US was charged with sex offences when she was found to have sent explicit pictures of herself to a friend. She sent the photos in confidence. However, the group fell out, and the messages were distributed amongst other friends.
Similarly, a teenager in Minnesota was charged with distributing child abuse materials when she shared explicit photos of herself on the social media platform, Snapchat.
The whimsical decisions of those teenagers have far-reaching implications. If convicted, they shall be placed on the sex offenders register for several years and shall find it extremely difficult to find employment in the future.
However, it’s quite disturbing how the victim could become victimised. Of course, the goal is always to stop the distribution of child abuse images and protect children. Still, pictures sent willingly are a far cry from taking advantage of vulnerable children.
In another troubling case, a 17-year-old boy from North Carolina was prosecuted with sex offences when photos were found, taken by himself on his own phone. The images were discovered to have been taken when he was 16.
The state of New Mexico is taking a different stance. They have passed a law which legalises sexting between the ages of 14 and 18. It’s clear to see the country is divided as lawmakers grapple to make sense of child abuse laws.
There is no doubt about it. We shouldn’t bury our heads in the sand. Sexting amongst teenagers is a common occurrence, but whether that’s sending or receiving images, they are liable to fall foul of current laws.
Here in the UK, the career of a highly decorated police officer lays in tatters when it was discovered she was sent a child abuse image by a family member in a group message. It’s not suggested she willingly received it or had any sinister intentions. In fact, she claims to have been busy and had not even viewed the image. Only by having the picture on her phone means she could now lose her job.
If highly regarded members of the police force can make errors of judgement, then how can we expect a teenager to make the right choices? How can we subject teenagers to the same high level of scrutiny?
Clearly, it’s a travesty when trusting teenagers fall victim at the hands of their friends when private images are maliciously shared without consent. They need to be better protected as the current grey areas can be challenging to navigate.