Thursday, April 18, 2013

"Sexting" cases with teens grow more troubling for prosecutors in VA, MD

A teen “sexting” case goes to trial in Fairfax County, VA, according to a Washington Post story Thursday morning by Justin Jouvenal.  In another case, in Franklin County VA, a 15 year old teen with Asperger’s goes on trial.  In many of these cases, teens were not aware of the possible legal consequences of their actions.  The link for the story is here
When teens are tried as adults, there is little that can be done to avoid prison terms and sex offender registry.  The juvenile system has more options. 

Attempts in both Virginia and Maryland to provide lesser offenses when data is shared only among “willing” teens haven’t gotten far yet.   

Dr. Phil has often remarked that cases like these show the physiological immaturity of the teen brain, which cannot “see around corners” and imagine the possible consequences in the adult world.
Prosecutors say that sexted images and videos wind up on the Internet or in the hands of criminals and can tarnish (usually)  females depicted for life.  But it would be almost impossible for most younger teens to grasp such consequences. 

For what it’s worth, the AP has described another “Lorena Bobbitt” case (1993) in southern California recently.  

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Instagram contests for tweens might violate COPPA, or at least its spirit

Cecilia Kang has a front page article in the Washington Post Saturday, April 6, about “Instagram” beauty contests that seem to entice pre-teen girls, and which might be in violation of new interpretations of COPPA, story here
The article described a contest where girls find their online photo presence marked up in red (with an X) the way a teacher might grade an algebra test – with red ink. 

Anyone (complete strangers) can vote, and parents have found young girls entered into "contests" without their knowledge from pictures posted by others (which feeds the concern about photos of people in public, which is generally considered legally protected).  
The article notes that teens and tweens seem a lot more concerned about numerical measures of their popularity, as with counts of “likes”, than are many adults.  Someone of my generation hardly thinks that way at all.
Again, going to the Intagram site I see the invitation to put it on the smart phone.
I also see how far behind the times I am in learning to use all the features of my own phone.  Is it because I don’t think I’m pretty enough?  

The Times of India has another typical story in Instagram concerns by parents, here