The Statesman ed board, a bastion of intellectual rigor if ever there was one (who can forget their 2004 endorsement of President George W. Bush), today endorsed the proposal by Sen. Watson and AG Abbott to criminalize sexting.
They apparently arrived at their conclusion after AG Abbott sent them the stats he was using, the ones I questioned last week, which come from a 2008 study done by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy which indicated that 22% of teenage girls had been texted nude images or sent nude images of themselves. Only 18% of boys indicated the same. Of course, this is only of the kids who have cell phones, roughly 70% of teens between 12 and 18. The study looked at kids aged 13-19, which is funny since 19 is over the age of consent.
Before you start worrying that your child is about to end up a mommy or a daddy, this is from Avery Murphy, a member of the Campaign…
“Parents think it’s happening more than it actually is,” she said. “It’s not seen as very normal by teenagers.”
Apparently, a certain Senator, a certain Attorney General and a certain Ed Board also think it’s far more prevalent than it actually is. Yeah, not quite the epidemic that everyone seems so worried about. A more recent Pew study put the number at 15%, but only 4% took pictures of themselves. Note that there are two different kinds of sexting, SMS and MMS (got that, Kirk and Greg). SMS is text only, MMS is text plus images or videos. It’s the latter this bill concerns. Of course all these polls are just asking about ‘sexting’ without much differentiation which leads me to think the 4% number that Pew generated is the most accurate.
The most asinine thing about all this is that this is WHAT KIDS DO. If we’d had text messaging when I was in high school, it would have eliminated all the notes we constantly passed around. It’s only because of child pornography laws that something has to be done (we think… so far there are only a few cases in the entire US), but this bill doesn’t fix any of that. Further, The Statesman is wrong when they say…
The measure also allows teenagers who receive such messages to escape prosecution if they report images to authorities within 48 hours.
It actually doesn’t. That would be, effectively, a safe harbor. This bill offers only an affirmative defense. The difference, in this case is no record/prosecution vs. one year in jail.
You want to protect kids from their own stupid actions in so far as keeping them out of the CJ system? Then write a bill that does that. This one sure as hell doesn’t.