Three girls in Pennsylvania ranging in age from 14 to 15 took nude or semi-nude photographs of themselves with their mobile phones, and sent them to three of their teenaged friends. All six have been brought up on child pornography charges.
In the Pennsylvania case, a school official seized the phone of one of the boys after he was caught using it during school hours in violation of a school rule, according to local police Capt. George Seranko. The official found the picture on the phone, and after some interrogation, discovered that two other girls had also e-mailed photos of themselves in the nude to friends. That’s when the school called police, who obtained search warrants to seize the phones and examine them. Police showed the images to the local district attorney, who recommended they bring charges.Seranko said the images “weren’t just breasts; they showed [gasp] female anatomy.”
Authorities argue that bringing child porn charges against teens is designed to educate them about the dangers of creating and distributing such images, which could fall into the hands of commercial pornographers, pedophiles or others who might want to harm or exploit them. (Wired)
Protecting children from child pornographers by accusing them of being child pornographers themselves. This is what moral panic does to your brain.
Capt. Seranko indicated that the children were likely to receive community service orders, and that “their records won’t be scarred for life.” But according to Philadelphia defence attorney Patrick Artur:
convictions would have “serious, serious implications,” including forcing [the teens] having to register as sexual offenders for at least 10 years. (MSNBC)
Indeed. The US is a country whose attitudes to teen sexuality, and perhaps sexuality in general, remain so Puritan that a 17-year-old Georgia man who received a blowjob from a 15-year-old girl at a New Year’s Eve party was sentenced to 10 years in prison; and as the Guardian notes:
Federal law also requires hefty punishment for teenaged relationships that span the legal start of adulthood at 17. An 18-year-old in their last year of high school who dates a 14-year-old in the first year faces up to 30 years in jail for a first offence.