Thursday, May 07, 2009
Northern VA authorities take cautious approach on "sexting" by minors
The Fairfax County (VA) Police Department has been handling the “sexting” issue carefully, according to a front page story in The Washington Post on Thursday May 7.
The story is “Sending of explicit photos can land teens in legal fix,” link here.
Typical the police department confers with a Commonwealth attorney, and may recommend counseling or juvenile court instead a full prosecution, as has happened in other states. The laws were never really designed to protect kids from each other this way and lump them in with “predators.”
Police say that many are “good kids” with no records, and have no concept that explicit photos could wind up on the Internet and be found by future employers or schools.
Update: May 13, 2009
Station WJLA-7 announced that Fairfax County police will have an information forum for the public on the sexting issue at West Springfield High School tonight, May 13.
WJLA provides a report of the meeting "Concerned Local Parents, Teens Gather for Sexting Meeting", link here. WJLA provides a video from the meeting there. The suggestion was made that parents take cell phones away at bedtime, and police said that over 20% of teens have texted. Technically, they are committing serious felonies. There is talk of changing the laws (with "Romeo and Juliet" age provisions) but police say it is difficult to do so without inviting real "predators" back in. Kids don't think what they are doing is wrong, and the problem it creates is indirect and existential.
Today, Ellen DeGeneres, on her show May 13, frivolously called "Sexting" "Texting with a booty call". I wonder if she realizes how serious the legal issue is.