The Educational Value of Getting Arrested on Child Porn Charges

Half a dozen teenagers in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, face child pornography charges, three for taking nude or semi-nude photos of themselves and sending them to boys by cell phone, three for receiving them. The arrests follow similar cases involving a 16-year-old Florida girl and her 17-year-old boyfriend, whose child pornography convictions were upheld by a state appeals court in 2007, and a 15-year-old Ohio girl who was arrested last fall. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review article about the Pennsylvania case mentions a 13-year-old boy in Texas who "was arrested on child pornography charges in October after he received a nude photo of a student on his cell phone." So I guess we have a trend.

Over at The Freedom Files, R.S. Davis worries that exhibitionist girls and horny boys across the country could end up on sex offender lists as a result of such adolescent indiscretions. He cites a recent survey in which 20 percent of 13-to-19-year-olds said they had transmitted or posted nude or semi-nude pictures of themselves. Teenagers in cases like these would not necessarily have to register as sex offenders. According to the A.P. report about the Ohio case, "an adult convicted of the child pornography charge would have to register as a sexual offender, but a judge would have flexibility on the matter with a convicted juvenile." And I'm not sure how representative the survey (PDF) mentioned by Davis is. A joint project of CosmoGirl.com and the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, it was conducted by TRU ("a global leader in research on teens and 20-somethings") with respondents who were "selected from among those who have volunteered to participate in TRU's online surveys." According to TRU, they "do not constitute a probability sample."

Still, treating teenagers who have violated no one's rights like criminals who sexually exploit children is undeniably absurd, especially since the ostensible aim is to help these poor, misguided youths:

[Greensburg police Sgt. Rob] Jones said many students don't realize that by sending the photos to others, even classmates, they eventually can end up on the Internet and in the hands of pedophiles.

[Lisa] Rullo [former principal at the defendants' high school, now the school district's director of student services] said district officials regularly review the policy on the use of cell phones and other electronic devices with students.

"We inform the students that it still is child pornography [if they give or possess it] and...this is something they don't want to have at all," she said.

Rullo said her experience shows that many students don't realize the consequences, even if their parents do.

"It's a shock to [parents]," she said. "The students seem desensitized."

Getting arrested and prosecuted, in other words, is like an educational field trip, intended to bring home the dangers of being an electronic exhibitionist. More likely, it will bring home the stupidity that can result from hysteria about online predators.

Radley Balko covered the Florida "child porn" case in 2006. Last year I tried to put the risk of online molestation in perspective. Yesterday Katherine Mangu-Ward noted a new report that confirms the danger has been greatly exaggerated.

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  • XX||

    Remember it is all under the guise of protecting kids.

  • ||

    He cites a recent survey in which 20 percent of 13-to-19-year-olds said they had transmitted or posted nude or semi-nude pictures of themselves.

    I would need to see these photos, in order to judge whether they are actually "pornographic".

  • Reinmoose||

    They're not old enough to consent to the picture they took of themselves.

    I'm guessing the next news story will be the arresting of 2 5-year old boys who were engaging in indecent exposure through a "I'll show you mine if you'll show me yours" transaction.

  • ||

    1. Older people hate it when teens do anything related to sex because they feel like every teenager is getting 10 times the action they ever got.

    2. By hitting a few kids with a draconian punishment, they are hoping to get all kids to think twice before doing this.

    3. Don't you know that teenage girls that send nude pictures of themselves are sluts and deserve any bad thing that happens to them? Aren't you aware that girls aren't supposed to like sex?

  • ||

    Epi,
    I'm going to have to go with,

    4. If the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Prosecutors think that everybody should be convicted.

  • Reinmoose||

    Epi -
    I heard that been a pregnant teen was cool now because of...ermm... hollywood!

    And being gay is cool now too, which is why we have so many more gays than we used to.

    The social fabric of society is unraveling before our eyes. It's all the TV and computer games and those internet sites that tell them it's ok.

  • !||

    I've sentenced boys younger than you to the gas chamber. Didn't want to do it. I felt I owed it to them.

  • tarran||

    We're going to send you to jail now to scare someone else - because otherwise that other person may someday take a picture of themselves that ends up being looked at by a dirty old man?

    Wow....

    I have a modest proposal. Why stop at punishing girls for taking revealing pictures of themselves? Some perverts like to look at pictures of women walking around in public and masturbate to them, so why not pass a law requiring teenage girls to wear some kind of garment that obscures their faces and phsyical appearance? We could put a fine vail over the eyes so that they could see out.

    And, of course, since many clueless teenage girls might object to wearing these garments, they must face serious punishments for refusing to wear them, perhaps a caning for the first offence and jail for subsequent ones.

    That way, we can prevent these girls from being victimized by having people derive sexual pleasure from looking at their picture.

  • ||

    The social fabric of society is unraveling before our eyes. It's all the TV and computer games and those internet sites that tell them it's ok.

    pr0n!!!

    Warty, in my experience, there is always a psychological element in stuff like this. Adults get fucking insane about teenagers having sex. Lots of issues wrapped up there.

  • ||

    Why isn't the principal in trouble for viewing the photos?

  • Jay||

    I can't wait until the first time a kid is tried as an adult because they distributed child-pornographic pictures of themselves.


    Jay

  • Warty||

    Warty, in my experience, there is always a psychological element in stuff like this. Adults get fucking insane about teenagers having sex. Lots of issues wrapped up there.

    LOL WUT? Were you daydreaming about my blue eyes and perky tits again, Epi?

  • ||

    Nice one, Jay.

    Along the same lines, I would also like to reiterate my suggestion that the voting and consent age in a state be set to the age of the youngest person they ever tried as an adult

  • ||

    "He cites a recent survey in which 20 percent of 13-to-19-year-olds said they had transmitted or posted nude or semi-nude pictures of themselves."

    13-to-19-year-olds must think it's hilarious to have someone ask them a question like that. These self-reported surveys are about as reliable as... They might have gotten a higher percentage if they'd asked 'em if they'd ever stuck a tennis ball up their asses.

    Which brings me to my next point. Doesn't asking 13-to-17-year-olds questions like this constitute some kind of felony? What's the next question on the survey--have you ever seen a grown man naked?

    With all the hypersensitivity out there, I have to wonder how surveyors get away with asking questions like this. Who out there is letting their 13-year-old kid be questioned by the people doing this research?

  • ||

    A true justice system would have washed their hands of this, leaving any punishments to the school and the parents.

    The consequences of lifelong registration far outweigh any consequences of having undesired recipients see their pictures.

    Don't for one second think that the students are guaranteed to be free from the burden of registration just because a judge decides they don't have to register RIGHT NOW.
    A law can be passed in the future mandating that anyone found delinquent/found guilty of something like has to register.

    Look at the Lautenberg amendment in 1996 and what it did to gun owners.

    Imagine a state where they barred persons convicted of/plead guilty to domestic violence misdemeanors under certain circumstances with a judge's discretion. Take a scenario similar to these kids-the prosecutor discusses some prosecution of a couple who gets into a shoving match in a bar and says that they probably won't be barred from gun ownership because judges don't generally enact that part of the law for first time minor offenses like this.

    Just because the judge in my hypothetical case chose not to require them to relinquish any firearms they had, doesn't mean they're protected from any future law requiring the same thing.

    These kids can be screwed at anytime by any future state/federal legislature. Once something's on their record, it's there FOREVER. THIS, above all else, is why we need a justice system over our current legal system.

  • Tyler||

    Remember, kids, sex is bad but aggressive enforcement of arbitrary laws is good!

    I'm so glad we're sending our kids the right message. They'll grow up to be role models of citizenship: faithful to unquestionable authority and as gleefully sexless as can be!

  • ||

    Were you daydreaming about my blue eyes and perky tits again, Epi?

    Just thinking about you in your training bra gives me a stiffy, Warty.

  • Reinmoose the schoold administ||

    Why can't kids just go back to exposing themselves to old perverts in person so I don't feel obligated to deal with this shit?

  • ||

    What's the next question on the survey

    Billy, do you like gladiator movies?

  • Warty||

    Give me your phone number and I'll text you a picture, Epi.

  • Reinmoose/Jack||

    What's the next question on the survey

    Do you like brownies? I baked them myself.

  • ||

    Warty: 202-456-1414. Make sure you arch your back.

    Have you ever been in a Turkish prison?

  • Warty||

    No, but I've danced with the devil in the cold moonlight. He said he had something in his front pocket for me.

  • Elemenope||

    The Educational Value of Getting Arrested on Child Porn Charges

    Not for nothing, but getting arrested *is* quite educational. There's nothing quite like it to strip away the bullshit you learn in Civics class.

  • Boston||

    Heres the thing i don't get from what i read of the situation. They got these kids cell phones and then went through them because they were using them in class. Like for realz? Is this standard operating procedure?

  • ktc2||

    People just need to get over the nudity is evil thing. Just grow the #&$@ up already.

    Second, teens are not children. Deal with it.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Looks like I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue.

  • JD||

    Wait, a 13-year-old was arrested because he RECEIVED a picture on his phone? Hmm. What's the DA's phone number? I have some stuff to send him so he can get arrested too. (Ah, who am I kidding. We all know the law is different for the nobility.)

  • ||

    Still, treating teenagers who have violated no one's rights like criminals who sexually exploit children is undeniably absurd, especially since the ostensible aim is to help these poor, misguided youths:

    Exactly the same mindset that justifies prosecution of drug users, so its well entrenched.

  • stuartl||

    They got these kids cell phones and then went through them because they were using them in class. Like for realz? Is this standard operating procedure?

    If a kid is caught texting in class, SOP around here is to confiscate the cell phone. Depending on the phone, the image might be visible. More likely the teachers were being voyeurs.

    Of course, getting caught either indicates stupidity or arrogance.

  • jtuf||

    I can see the case for an officer having a talk with the teenager to explain the risk of online predators, but prosecuting minors in the name of protecting minors is rediculous. In child abuse cases, the blame goes entirely to the adult criminal, none of it goes to the minor. This principle should also protect minors who take pictures of themselves, which is less dangerous than actually getting in bed with an adult.

  • ||

    If a kid is caught texting in class, SOP around here is to confiscate the cell phone. Depending on the phone, the image might be visible. More likely the teachers were being voyeurs.

    Have the police confiscated and examined the teachers' computers and cellphones?

    Speaking of perverts...

  • Boston||

    Depending on the phone, the image might be visible

    Wouldnt this be depend on them

    a. Looking at the picture in class
    b. Having it as their background

    I don't see either case being very likely. Though i have never heard of "sexting" so what do i know. If i was the parents. I think i would be more pissed that they can just look through the phone when ever they want to. Then again, i am not a parent.

  • Boston||

    And if i were my parents i'd be ashamed of my grammar.

  • the innominate one||

    "...TRU ("a global leader in research on teens and 20-somethings")..."

    so is Barely Legal

    I picked the wrong week to stop doing amphetamines.

  • Reinmoose||

    Wait, a 13-year-old was arrested because he RECEIVED a picture on his phone?

    No, he was arrested because he probably liked it! We all know that the DA is a grownup and would never like such a filthy thing.

  • stuartl||

    Wouldnt this be depend on them

    a. Looking at the picture in class


    Yes, they receive a text from someone and open it discreetly (or not, they are teenagers), and the teacher sees it. I'm speculating of course. It could be the administration suspecting something even worse than sex, Oh No! Gang Membership! Drugs!, and using that as grounds to look through the contents of the phone.

  • Tacos mmm...||

    I can't wait until the first time a kid is tried as an adult because they distributed child-pornographic pictures of themselves.



    I can't wait until a kid is tried as an adult for child self-molestation.

  • ||

    Anyone here with teens? I mean parent of teens, not been with them...

    My limited sample size survey indicates 100% of teens have sent, recieved, or viewed naked pictures of their girlfriends, boyfriends, and/or friends girlfriends and boyfriends.

    I am 100% confident my son has received a naked bathroom mirror picture of a girl he had "relations" with. It's OK though, I stabbed my eyes out with a fork after the little bragart SOB showed it to me. Of course I told him to delete. And you just know he did.

  • Tym||

    I can't wait until the first time a kid is tried as an adult because they distributed child-pornographic pictures of themselves.

    Wouldn't that be making them the victim and victimizer simultaneously, and also a child and adult at the same time?

  • Monocle Mike||

    So when is the girl from High School Musical going to jail (Hudgens?)? Because I'm pretty sure 25% of people with a computer saw the pictures she took of herself.

  • Elemenope||

    Wouldn't that be making them the victim and victimizer simultaneously, and also a child and adult at the same time?

    Aristotle commits suicide. Buddha laughs heartily.

  • The Bearded Hobbit||

    I recall a book from around the '70s called Show Me that had two naked 8 year-olds on the cover! IIRC, this was a guide for adolescents as to the changes that their bodies were going thru. All educational and such. I guess I'll have to find my copy and destroy it before I get arrested for TEH PR()N.

    .. "naked under my clothes" Hobbit

  • ||

    "What you two need is a little something called Love is... It's a comic strip about two naked eight-year-old who aren't married."

  • Elemenope||

    I recall a book from around the '70s called Show Me that had two naked 8 year-olds on the cover! IIRC, this was a guide for adolescents as to the changes that their bodies were going thru. All educational and such. I guess I'll have to find my copy and destroy it before I get arrested for TEH PR()N.

    There was lots of this sort of shit in the '60s and '70s. IIRC, Jerry Rubin's goofy revolution manual Do It! had a naked child somewhere in the pages.

  • ||

    Of course I told him to delete. And you just know he did.

  • ||

    Dadgum squirrels!

    addendum:

    *After he printed the life-size enlargements.*

  • Ashamed I know whom you\'re ta||

    So when is the girl from High School Musical going to jail (Hudgens?)?

    Per wikipedia, she turned 18 in Dec 2006; the pics got on the internet in Sep '07. I would say it's unlikely that they were kept on the dl for more than 9 months.

  • ||

    The 70's were weird. My brother and I both recall a girl's birthday party we were at. Every year at the girl's birthday party the girl's dad would streak through the house. All the girls would scream/laugh. It was awkward being the only two boys there out of 10-12 kids (we were babysat by the birthday girl's mother).

  • ||

    That should have been "screem". I don't usually fix typos, but in this case somebody might have thought I meant "cream".

  • Elemenope||

    Dadgum squirrels!

    I don't know. That post had an interesting sort of Zen.

  • ||

    You know, before there was an internet and digital photography, etc., in some countries, teens used to actually show each other their private parts.

    No! No! I heard it on NPR once. It's true!

  • T||

    Not for nothing, but getting arrested *is* quite educational. There's nothing quite like it to strip away the bullshit you learn in Civics class.

    Yeah, nothing like sitting in the holding cell watching the drunk guy drool and piss himself. I can do without my kid having that kind of an education. Of course, she's 19 now, so anything she sends these days is regular pron, not the kiddie kind.

  • Robert||

    I do think the children should contest the issue of whether the photos were pornographic. As the example of Show Me shows, the mere use of nude models does not constitute pornography.

  • Elemenope||

    I do think the children should contest the issue of whether the photos were pornographic. As the example of Show Me shows, the mere use of nude models does not constitute pornography.

    Maybe they were teaching each other anatomy...or running a psychological experiment...or making an ironic postmodern artistic statement...or waging a form of political protest...

    OK, I'm out of ideas/excuses.

  • ||

    So when is the girl from High School Musical going to jail (Hudgens?)?

    Per wikipedia, she turned 18 in Dec 2006; the pics got on the internet in Sep '07.


    Well, then, linkee linkee, dammit!

  • ||

    Jock Sturges just had a new book come out in November. Maybe the FBI will visit him again.

    What a dumb fucking country we have become.

  • Robert||

    No, seriously, it has to be more than mere exposure of genitals to constitute porn. If you're holding a camera and shooting your reflection in a mirror, it's got to be hard even to assume a pornographic pose.

  • Elemenope||

    Yeah, nothing like sitting in the holding cell watching the drunk guy drool and piss himself. I can do without my kid having that kind of an education. Of course, she's 19 now, so anything she sends these days is regular pron, not the kiddie kind.

    I don't have kids yet, so I can't speak to that, but I have been arrested and it isn't the worst thing in the world. And the court part of things is undeniably educational, and things look very different from the point of view of the defendant than from the guy sitting in the back pew bench.

  • Abe S||

    I'm just jumping into this, but here's an interesting question:

    Suppose a 17 year old kid takes a photo of himself naked, and decides to sell the photo when he turns 18. Is this a crime? My understanding is that child pornography laws are in place in order to protect minors from possible abuse by other adults - not to protect them from themselves. But when the minor gives their full consent as an adult to publish photos of themselves when they were younger, is punishment even warranted? Who is being taken advantage of? No one.

    Here, we get into the question of WHY child pornography is illegal in the first place. Granted, if such technicalities were allowed to go unpunished - i.e. if the above-mentioned photo was considered legal - we would have a greater influx of "legal" child pornography. We must ask: would this be a problem? Should such materials be outlawed even if they were created without coercion and with the full knowledge and consent of all parties involved.

    People seem to believe that the very existence of such materials would produce pedophiles, which is akin to assuming that violent television produces murderers. Does it? Really? Even if it does, isn't child molestation the crime that should be punished, and not the mere thought of said crime? Isn't that "thought crime?"

    I am reminded of "To Catch a Predator." How can we arrest people for their (assumed) intentions and not their specific actions? Since when is it illegal to be about-to-have-sex-with-a-minor? How is it legal to arrest someone for wanting to have sex with a minor? For thinking about it? It is the ACT which is punishable, not the intention. If we arrested people for thinking about murder, for watching films depicting murder, can you imagine the number of people who would be in jail?

  • dhex||

    "Every year at the girl's birthday party the girl's dad would streak through the house."

    i dunno if you can blame that on the 70s alone. that's just plain weird in any decade.

  • ||

    i dunno if you can blame that on the 70s alone. that's just plain weird in any decade.

    To everybody else it was an expected "surprise". To me and my bro, it was more like "WTF was that all about?" As far as we could tell there was nothing unusual about this family. Well, aside from dad running around naked for special occasions.

    I don't think this was officially OK in the 70's (happened about 1978), but I certainly could not picture anyone doing this any time from say mid 1980's to present without facing jail-time. My brother and I never mentioned it to our parents - we've wondered since then if anyone else did. We'll probably never know.

  • cuernimus||

    He cites a recent survey in which 20 percent of 13-to-19-year-olds said they had transmitted or posted nude or semi-nude pictures of themselves



    Numbers like this make me wish that I was a high school teacher who gave his students his cell phone number for "homework help." Also the only reason this is such a big issue for prosecutors is so they can justify looking at pics of jailbait for days on end.

    I remember watching a show on TLC around the year 2000 that showed body progression with full frontal on newborns to about 10 years old then panned up for the 11ish to 20 years old then went back to full frontal from there to about 90. Despite the unnecessary panning, it was a highly intelligent and informative show, and something that I could probably never find on television today.

  • ||

    Episiarch, you wrote: ... in my experience, there is always a psychological element in stuff like this. Adults get fucking insane about teenagers having sex. Lots of issues wrapped up there.

    You push this theme a lot here. (OK, maybe not "a lot," but I know I've seen it here before.)

    Which adults are you talking about, exactly? It's true that parents, with teenagers, might get insane about teenagers having sex -- their teenagers, at least. But what basic psychological issue are you attributing to adults as a class? Sure you're not generalizing from something specific to yourself? (And I don't mean that as a criticism... just asking straightforward.)

    Because I've not encountered this built-in "adults have issues with teen sex" thing you allude to. Not in my conversations with adults, not in my reading of adults' words, not in the basic vibes one picks up on simply by being around other humans.

    Rather, the sense I get is that nobody, like, gives a shit. I don't sense any jealousy, or resentment, or regret, or whatever it is you're saying plagues the ex-teen population. Now, parents with teenagers -- that's a different story. But their angst stems from a totally different place.

  • ||

    "Because I've not encountered this built-in "adults have issues with teen sex" thing you allude to."

    Oh we got trouble,
    right here in River City!
    With a capital "T"
    and that rhymes with "C"
    and that stands for Cellphone!

    Our children's children gonna have trouble, trouble, trouble...

    Devil's Tool!

    Seriously, gettin' crazy about what the kids are getting away with right under our noses is about as American as baseball or apple pie.

  • cunnivore||

    [Greensburg police Sgt. Rob] Jones said many students don't realize that by sending the photos to others, even classmates, they eventually can end up on the Internet and in the hands of pedophiles.

    And this is the part of the show where we forget that the purpose of kiddie porn laws is to keep kids from being abused for profit, and instead think that they're designed to keep pedophiles from getting their rocks off.

  • Tom||

    Seriously, gettin' crazy about what the kids are getting away with right under our noses is about as American as baseball or apple pie.

    Well, of course it is. But Episiarch is claiming that adults have major "psychological" "issues" about teens having sex.

    Adults have plenty of beefs about the stuff kids do, often for really stupid reasons. But psychological issues about teen sex? Say what? I'm trying to figure out what Episiarch has gleaned that I haven't gleaned.

    He/she is assigning some sort of "jealousy," for one. I'm just curious where that assessment is coming from. Because I've never picked up on anything like it in my long life of dealing with other human beings.

    The only adults I know who have any real opinions about teen sex are those with teen kids, at least the ones with daughters. I've never sensed any sort of personal hangup about the topic from anybody else.

    In other words, I think stuff like this goofy school arrest is driven by the class of humans called "parents," not the ones called "adults."

  • heretic||

    Jones said many students don't realize that by sending the photos to others, even classmates, they eventually can end up on the Internet and in the hands of pedophiles.

    Uh, someone who get's off on pictures of teens isn't a "pedophile" (which is someone who is turned on by pre-pubescent children). They're not even "hebephiles" (unless they're ONLY turned on by teenagers). There's not much difference between the body of miley cyrus and madonna, if you've got enough common sense to think about it.

    These are just normal kids, doing what normal kids have done since time immemorial. The insanity and cheap sentiment fostered by the rape and molestation hysteria is part and parcel of the slow infantilization of the public in general and just another example of our "enlightened" and "progressive" masters trying to micro-manage the lives of the citizenry through nanny-state legislation.

  • ||

    "It's a shock to [parents]," she said. "The students seem desensitized."

    No, former principal Rullo, they were never sensitized---taught to be shocked---in the first place. They exhibited the normal reactions of sexually developing humans to visual stimulus of a sexual nature. If you had done your job, they would have learned that sex is bad, bad, bad.

    You're a slouch, Rullo. Get on the ball.

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