Saturday, October 18, 2014

Teenage sexting illegal

Hanna Rosin has been writing about the end of men, and now she takes on teenage sexting:
In her report on the Louisa County scandal for The Atlantic, Rosin set out to address the question, why are so many teenagers sending each other nude photos? How much does teen sexting have to do with actual sex? How should parents, and communities, respond? And how do child pornography laws apply?
We do have the peculiar situation of extremely harsh child porn laws, and yet millions of teenagers violate them every day, and do not see anything wrong with it.

Rosin says that all attempts to bring the law into line with common practice have failed, as prosecutors and others want to be able to impose severe punishments for the slightest offenses.

Here is a recent jury conviction:
A 56-year-old man with a history of child molestation, convicted last month of viewing child pornography at the Santa Cruz Public Library, was sentenced Thursday to 14 years in prison.

The ruling by Santa Cruz County Superior Court Judge Timothy Volkmann was not popular with the about 26 people gathered in the court, many associating themselves with the community group Take Back Santa Cruz.

In order to reach the 14-year sentence, Volkmann set aside consideration of seven out the previous eight sex molestation-related convictions of Matthew Graham.
Apparently the public wanted a stiffer sentence. 14 years in prison for some naughty web browsing on a library computer seems extreme to me. (This guy did other bad things in the past, but presumably he was already punished for those.)

It is hard to explain to kids:
Santa Cruz police officer Brent Northrup has been trying to make kids aware of the dangers inherent in social media for years.

Sometimes, Northrup said, kids can be the victim and the perpetrator of crime.

"Kids generally do not think that the activity they're doing is a crime, so I built an awareness campaign for kids," Northrup said during a presentation Wednesday. "I found that kids didn't care, in one ear and out the other, until it directly affected them."

Wednesday, Northrup found a much more receptive group in his 60-plus member adult audience gathered in the Santa Cruz Police Department's Community Room.
Sure, the retired folks can see that sending naked pictures is a bad idea.

Here is another opinion that laws are extreme (in the UK):
'We've gone nuts locking up sex offenders': Celebrated author John Grisham, 59, has claimed that some men who viewed child porn online are 'not real pedophiles' and 'would never harm anybody', but are still called sex offenders and sent to prison
Rosin tells the story of a small time cop that investigated some school sexting, and then discovered that following the law would put every kid in town on a sex offender list for the rest of his or her life.

Most criminal law is based on mens rea, the concept hat the criminal has a guilty mind and knows that he is doing something wrong. We should either convince teenagers that this is wrong, or change the law to only criminalize the really perverted child porn.

Update: Grisham forced to apologize. You just cannot say that we have gone too far, I guess.

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