|Oops, guess I’m a child porn possessor and disseminator, now
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And yet another teen learns about the perils of consensually posting nude or sexually charged pictures of themself on the Internet – not because of stalkers or other (often overblown) online dangers, but rather due to what will happen when overzealous adults in positions of authority learn about it:
PITTSBURGH (AP) - A 15-year-old girl has been arrested for taking nude photographs of her self and posting them on the Internet, police said.
The girl, whose identity was withheld, was accused of sending out photographs of herself in various states of undress and performing a variety of sexual acts. She sent them to people she met in chat rooms on the Internet, police said.
Police seized her computer and found dozens of photographs stored on the hard drive. Authorities did not say how police learned about the girl.
She has been charged with sexual abuse of children, possession of child pornography and dissemination of child pornography.
I facepalmed, hard. And repeatedly.
Unfortunately, as insane as this sort of outcome is, it’s far from a fringe event. In a climate of absolute condemnation of any material showing sexuality in minors, regardless of the nature or source of said material, anyone caught creating, possessing or sharing it is instantly reviled as a pedophile/child molester/general perverted villain, even if the material is as benign as, say, a grandmother’s innocuous photo of a nude toddler granddaughter in a bathtub. If there’s a picture or video showing an underaged boy or girl’s tuchus, someone’s gotta pay – regardless of the circumstances. Such as in this case, when it’s the minor, herself, who willingly and deliberately took those photos and shared them online, sans any apparent coercion or real pornographic intent*.
Of course, what the young girl did is wrong, and some manner of discipline ought to be in order. But I’m not even certain that such behavior – knowingly and willingly sharing sexualized material of yourself to others – should be criminalized at all. And the idea that it should be met with charges of creation, possession and dissemination of child pornography is utterly ridiculous. But charges of “sexual abuse of children” – when it’s clear that no child was abused by any legal or moral understanding – is just fucking insane. (Not to mention that, of course, such charges immediately merit the addition of the culprit’s name on the local sex offender registry, thus obliterating any lingering hope for a normal, non-penalized life that might have remained.)
People can wonder and postulate all they want about why she did what she did and about how damaging it would be to her future aspirations, but the tragic fact is that, once again, we now have a young person who’s life is pretty much ruined before it’s really even begun, not by their own actions in themselves, but because of the crazy, distorted and blindly zero-tolerance system that threw a ton of bricks on her head. What a child who spreads nude or sexualized media of themself to others needs is a good tongue-lashing and a heartfelt talk about the real risks. What they don’t need is for reactionary idiots to pose far greater a threat to their life and well-being than any potential repercussions of sharing such material ever could by themselves.