March 15, 2009
called sexting. By definition, it's the dissemination of pornographic
messages vis-a-vis nude photos and sex talk via cell phones. And it's
making headline news everywhere. In St. Petersburg, Florida teacher
Christy Lynn Martin was caught sexting an eighth grade student. Martin
admitted to allegedly sexting nude pictures of herself to the teen student
and received same back from him. Martin admitted sending the images
to the boy and was arrested for transmitting pornographic images through
an electronic device and transmitting harmful material to a minor. Click
for the story.
After perusing over the Florida Statutes it appears Martin should have been charged with a violation of Florida Statute 800.04(7)(a)(2), Lewd and Lascivious Exhibition, a second degree felony which is punishable by 15 years in prison per count. In reality she was charged with two third degree felonys - click here and here.
In another case of sexting that led to suicide and has already garnered national attention, 18 year-old Jesse Logan hung herself in her Ohio bedroom last summer - click here for the story. Ostensibly, Logan sent sexually provocative images of herself to her boyfriend, and later after they broke up those images made their way around school. Logan couldn't endure the taunting from her peers and thoroughly depressed, took her own life. Logan's mother Cynthia just interviewed with Matt Lauer on the Today Show relative to the dangers of sexting.
So, we've gone from kidde porn over the internet which is still a lucrative haven for pedophiles and child molesters, to sexting via cell phones. As a professional who consults on and testifies in alleged sex crimes cases I find this "new tool for perverts" to be very problematic; problematic for parents, problematic for school officials, problematic for child protective services, problematic for the authorities, and especially problematic for our state and federal legislatures because ultimately they are the ones who are going to be forced back to their legislative drawing boards to fix it. From a national perspective, the next time the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) is re-authorized once more it may have to first be amended and tweaked to include definitions, clarifications, punishments and courses of action and prevention relative to sexting.
With the rise in female teacher child molestation and child-on-child abuse the issue of sexting must be addressed now. I do not profess to know all of the answers. Obviously, if Internet Service Providers and Televisions offer "parental controls," then cell phone companies are going to need to do the same if they haven't already done so. When cell phones can lead to rape, suicide and even homicide, Houston, we have a very BIG problem.
The ACLU may not like this idea, but I'm a firm believer in installing video recorders in all school classrooms. Would you choose child protection over an invasion of privacy? If it was your kid who was doing the sexting or was the recipient of the same I'm certain you'd opt for the former.