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» Got Questions? Get Answers. » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Ethics and Politics » Send naked photos of yourself as a minor: get charged with making child porn

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Author Topic: Send naked photos of yourself as a minor: get charged with making child porn
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
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More than once, when users have asked if it's okay or lawful for them to snap nude or semi-nude photos of themselves and send to friends, boyfriends/girlfriends, what have you, we've stated that doing so actually ISN'T lawful (and often isn't safe and could carry all sorts of consequences most folks don't think of).

I know we've mentioned too that given a minor's age, any nude photos they take, even of themselves, could be construed as child pornography.

And sadly, this bore out today: http://www.post-gazette.com/breaking/20040329pornp6.asp

"State police have charged a 15-year-old Latrobe girl with child pornography for taking photos of herself and posting them on the Internet.

Police said the girl, whose identity they withheld, photographed herself in various states of undress and performing a variety of sexual acts. She then sent the photos to people she met in chat rooms.

A police report did not say how police learned about the girl. They found dozens of pictures of her on her computer.

She has been charged with sexual abuse of children, possession of child pornography and dissemination of child pornography."

Given, this is most certainly about as close to a worst-case scenario as it gets legally-speaking. And these photos were found on her HOME computer (though apparently, she did distribute them).

Not meant as a scare-you story, just a serious reality check.

And worth looking at from many standpoints. How crazy is it to be charging this girl (bear in mind that if the charge sticks, she will likely be looking at being a registered sex offender, for the rest of her life, all for taking and sending photos of herself, not anyone else)? Or do you think it's fair? And might those who think it IS crazy, think it just as crazy if it were a boy of the same age who had taken the photos of her? Is this the same sort of thing as trying minors as adults in other situations, or not? And what does it say about the state of sexual affairs in the states, as well as the state of affairs in terms of how minors are treated and viewed when it comes to the law, privacy and sex (FYI, 16 is the legal age of consent in PA)?

(In other words, per the last question: consider the oxymoron that she is being charged with crimes that state she is a child, but as an adult. She is also being charged with sexual abuse: of herself.)

One last thing: again, this isn't exactly an everyday occurrence, but do let it be a reminder that the sex laws in effect in regard to adults and minors really are laws, and disregarding them or thinking they don't apply when they do is a big-time gamble.

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Heather Corinna
Editor and Founder, Scarleteen

My epitaph should read: "She worked herself into this ground."
-- Kay Bailey Hutchinson

[This message has been edited by Miz Scarlet (edited 04-02-2004).]


Posts: 67055 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Bobolink
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I don't presume to be an expert on American law but might this be the only way to bring the child under the protection of the child protection agencies? In Ontario, a child so charged would almost always become a temporary ward of the Crown and placed under the care of a Childrens Aid Society until the case was resolved.

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We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.

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KandyKorn17
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Wow. I just don't understand why. I think it's crazy. I don't think she needs protection. I don't think what she did was a SMART idea, persay.... but the act of taking nude pictures of herself and sending them to guys on the net seems generally harmless, if she is emotionally okay with the decision she made. All I can think is that this is an attempt to keep people from exploiting children by convincing them to claim consent when it comes to sexually explicit pictures of minors. If a minor can post nude pictures of herself on the net, then it might not be that difficult to find a way around child pornography laws by putting the photos in the childrens' hands, metaphorically speaking.

I still think the situation could have been handled better by shutting down the pictures, explaining to the 15 year old how serious it is to post these photos on the net, and hoping she would refrain from doing it at least until she reached her 16th birthday.

And yeah, there is a lot of irony in the fact that this girl is obviously "protected" sexually since the government made the decision she was still a child and therefore unable to make sexual decisions herself, yet she faces adult charges.


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Gumdrop Girl
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Kandy, have you ever seen how quickly materials get recycled on the internet? If it was legally OK for minors to distribute sexually explicit pitcures of themselves online, then those pictures quickly wind up in the hands of thousands of people, who then send them onto other thousands of people. In less than a day, it's no longer the girl sending the photos out herself.

Now think about if this were the case, how quickly an exploitative distributer of kiddie porn could bail him.herself out of trouble by arguing that the materials were procured directly from the kid. That might not be true, but YOU try to figure out if her's lying.

Anyway, i think the best course of action is to 1. Make people aware that sending nekkid pix of yourself if you're underage is WRONG 2. Continue enforcing the restrictions on distribution of child pornography, regardless of "who started it"

in short, i think this girl needed a reality check, though it's too bad it had to come in this form. nonetheless, do the crime, do the time.

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logic_grrl
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quote:
Now think about if this were the case, how quickly an exploitative distributer of kiddie porn could bail him.herself out of trouble by arguing that the materials were procured directly from the kid.

I don't see how. The whole point about child porn is that the child can't legally consent to its being made or distributed.

It seems to me that it would be perfectly possible to prosecute any adults for distributing, passing on, or soliciting this material, without also having to prosecute the person who is, legally, the victim.

quote:
nonetheless, do the crime, do the time.

But child porn is a crime because the child involved has been victimized (even if no force was involved, they can't freely consent to sexual activity or being used in porn).

Therefore, it makes no sense to prosecute someone for a crime of which they are the victim.

This girl certainly needs a reality check on Why Sending Naked Photos Of Your Underage Self To People In Chatrooms is a really bad and unsafe idea.

And if it turns out that the chatroom folk in question knew her age but encouraged her to take these photos, or distributed them to anyone else, then they should most certainly be prosecuted.

But if the concern is her welfare, then it makes no sense to land her with a possible jail sentence and a record which will bar her from working with children (or, possible, even having children of her own) for life.


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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
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It truly is debatable that she has committed any crime at all, given the information. And I'd agree with everything logic has just said.

I'd also say that we should make sure we aren't trying to simplify something which is actually very complex.

"Anyway, i think the best course of action is to 1. Make people aware that sending nekkid pix of yourself if you're underage is WRONG 2. Continue enforcing the restrictions on distribution of child pornography, regardless of "who started it."

For instance, does this apply, this "wrongness" of nude photographs, to baby pictures? Kids in bathtubs? To sending photos to platonic friends or current partners one knows in person (and for all we know, that is who this girl was sending them to)? Where do the lines get drawn, why and how?

I'd also suggest that this case, if nothing else, illustrates the serious conflicts in what one even terms child pornography, and the present problems in how the laws ARE structured, in that it's entirely plausible that VICTIMS (not neccessarily this young woman, as again, there just is so little information to work with to know WHAT went on), are going to find themselves persecuted and maligned, and that is never okay. It is equally not okay when, as is likely the case in this situation, the young woman had no intention of sending out "child pornography," as a) she likely doesn't think herself a child, as clearly the state doesn't, in intending to try her as an adult, b) she likely wasn't intending to sell the images in any way and c) she has likely seen MASS media and cultural support for doing what she did in LAWFUL situations, a la Britney Spears videos, etc.


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