Free-Range Kids

Sexting Didn't Ruin This Girl's Life, But an Arrest Might Have


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Michaela Snyder, a 15-year-old girl from Woodbury, Minnesota, was in seventh grade when her boyfriend asked her to sext with him. She complied—sending him semi-nude pictures of herself—but eventually her mother found the photos on her phone. 

Michaela then became the subject of intense bullying at school because rumors spread that she had deliberately ratted out her boyfriend. (While I don't think every bad experience at school counts as bullying, this sounds like the real deal: Kids tripping her, boycotting her at lunch, and telling her she should "die.")

The whole ordeal sounds just horrible. So here's the ironic part, according to Ruben Rosario in

If you think this could not happen to your child, consider that Michaela is the daughter of Grant Snyder, a veteran Minneapolis police sergeant in the crimes against children unit who has spent most of his career busting pimps and trying to help sexually exploited young girls and women.

"I talked openly with her about the cases I worked on, how (pimps) manipulate girls into (doing drugs and performing sex for money)," he said. "I believe if you gave information, that was protection enough. It wasn't.

It's not just ironic that her dad deals with sex crimes. It's ironic that he could have arrested his daughter for creating and disseminating child porn had he wanted to. Then she would have ended up on the sex offender registry.  That's how easy it is to ruin a life.

Sext arrests among minors aren't theoretical. Remember this story? A 17-year-old boy and his 15-year-old girlfriend were exchanging sexts. The boy was arrested and photographed—sans undies—to certify him as the miscreant. But that wasn't enough. The authorities actually wanted to take him to a hospital and give him an erection drug (vodka?) to make absolutely sure he was the—forgive me—hardened criminal in the original photo that they were calling child porn.

Only universal ridicule stopped them.

The happy ending to Michaela's trauma is that she did not end up on the sex offender list. What's more, she rose above the shame, realized that other young people are probably in her same situation, and has gone public with her story as a sort of motivational cautionary tale. Right on!

I hope she takes her story to law enforcement agencies next, to remind them that often teens make regrettable choices when it comes to sex. That doesn't make them sex offenders. It makes them young, horny, dumb. In other words, human.