Teenagers

20 Jersey Shore Students Charged in Sexting Investigation

Invasion of privacy charges could lead to juvenile lockup or state prison for Cape May teens.

|

Lower Cape May Regional School District/Facebook

Twenty teenagers from New Jersey's Lower Cape May Regional High School and associated middle school have been charged for texting one another nude photos of fellow students. School officials "were alerted by a juvenile female student that nude photos of friends were being texted to boys around the school," according to Shore News Today. The school turned matters over to the police, who seized students' phones and "discovered that numerous nude and partially nude photographs of female students were being exchanged between male students via text message and social media." 

The students—19 minors and one 18-year-old—were charged with third-degree invasion of privacy. If convicted, the 18-year-old could face three to five years in state prison and/or a $15,000 fine; the others could get two years in a detention center for juvenile offenders. (At least they're not being charged as child pornographers?) More students, including several girls, may still be indicted, said Cape May County Prosecutor Robert L. Taylor. 

In a statement, Taylor thanked the school for supplying fresh fodder for the state's school-to-prison pipeline its cooperation. "The prevalence of 'sexting' among our High School and Middle School children is concerning," the statement continued. "It is imperative that these students understand the severity of their actions and the impact that their actions have on themselves, their victims, and the community. Students in other Cape May County schools should be aware that these actions are criminal and can lead to prosecution." 

In the recent book Sexting Panic: Rethinking Criminalization, Privacy, and Consent, University of Colorado communications professor Amy Adele Hasinoff suggests that instead of simply telling kids not to sext, we should introduce them to technological tools that protect their privacy and, most importantly, emphasize that while sexting is okay, it's immoral to share private images without consent.

The Cape May County prosecutors aren't releasing many details, so it's unclear whether teens who merely took or received images were implicated or only those spreading them around. At any rate, it doesn't seem any students posted the images publicly online, nor that the images were originally obtained in some sort of illegal way. We are likely talking about teen boys swapping racy pics of their girlfriends or crushes or conquests. It's not behavior to be encouraged, sure, but it's also not new behavior, just a new medium for it.

And it's not going to go away—as long as teens are sending each other sexy pics, you can bet some of them are going to be shared. So maybe we focus on teaching kids not to send these photos. Maybe parents take away phones if they discover it. Maybe schools offer punishments if it's done on school computers or something. But trying to charge every kid who texts or views such images as a criminal can't be the best way.

NEXT: Patrick G. Eddington on Why NSA Surveillance Programs Are a Cancer on the Constitution

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

    1. Is that an open invite? Even for the fuglies, like Warty and Cyto?

      1. For some reason I picture Warty as looking like Paul Bunyan only huger. Is this inaccurate?

        1. Just don’t ask for pictures of his junk. You’ll never sleep again.

          1. I don’t sleep now!

        2. It is not.

          1. Yeah, pretty accurate except death metal band t-shirts instead of flannel

            1. I was listening to liquid metal on SXM the other day. I’m not a fan of metal, but you really have to recognize the talent of the drummer and guitarist. They play crazy fast.

    2. [opens fly and pisses on Fist]

      That is one of your fetishes, right?

      1. Only when stung by a jellyfish.

  1. Sexting can ruin your life. So we’re just going to go ahead and ruin it for you.

    1. Plus it makes your thumbs pregnent.

      1. It makes your thumbs get hit by a bus?

        1. That’s your tractor story?!”

    2. It’s like when they shoot people for being suicidal.

      Or throw them in jail for possessing an substance.

      Or forcing you to go to crappy government schools.

      Government: It’s for your own good.

  2. In a statement, Taylor thanked the school for…

    all those nudie pics.

    1. He had to review them many, many times, often late into night, to ensure that every victim was protected and every criminal prosecuted.

      1. “Your Honor, I’d like to introduce this large clump of photos into evidences as Exhibit A. It was supposed to be Exhibit A through Exhibit X, but they somehow became stuck together in the evidence locker.”

  3. we should introduce them to technological tools that protect their privacy

    Show me the technological brilliance that will protect the privacy of idiots who self-distribute their own nude pictures.

    1. Given the capabilities of facial recognition SW, it doesn’t seem too implausible to create “junk” recognition SW.

      Not that I would know how to define the parameters…

    2. the ONLY thing that will protect the privacy of those in the nudiepix is between the ears of those portrayed in the nudiepix. The way to prevent such pics from being “shared” around is to simply keep yer panties on, particularly when someone of the other gender is in the vicinity AND has a camera or phone in his possession. Sort of like letting the cat out into the yard and expecting her to stay home It ain\’t a gonna happen.

  4. I’m thrilled my kids turn 18 the summer after they graduate high school.

  5. But trying to charge every kid who texts or views such images as a criminal can’t be the best way.

    Oh, but it is…for the prosecutor who gets to grandstand. And for the cops who get to look at all those nude pictures of teenage girls…as “evidence”, of course. And for the ultra-lazy, discretion-averse school administrators who just want someone else to take care of the problem.

    Charging kids for this is beyond asinine. Yet it happens all the time. Which means there is a reason for it. The incentives are there or it wouldn’t happen.

    Always follow the incentives.

    1. It gives the cops an excuse to ogle at nude teens. So of course they want to be involved whenever something like this happens. They get more deposits for the spank bank.

      1. Even accounting for them, are such pics better than simply going to their favorite spank sites?

        1. Having a nude of someone you know (rules of minimal attractiveness apply) is always better than an airbrushed made-up stranger.

          1. And when it comes to government and/or power, why settle for one when I can have both?

          2. always better than an airbrushed made-up stranger

            I have heard that this is correct.

      2. This is the forbidden fruit effect.

    2. discretion-averse

      I read that as “perverse” for some reason.

  6. and associated middle school

    ?!!!

    *jots down reminder to check daughter’s phone when I get home*

    1. “*jots down reminder to check daughter’s phone when I get home*”

      Wow, Paul. It’s pretty gross that you’re apparently really excited to look at naked middle school girls.

      I’m ashamed of you, Paul.

      1. Good point.

        *inserts ‘^have mom’ between ‘to’ and ‘check’.*

        1. Yes, have your wife screen out the uggos.

          1. I know, right? I mean, what do I pay her for?

            1. You pay her?

              I just threaten to call ICE on mine. Get with the program or get sent back to Korea for you!

  7. we should introduce them to technological tools that protect their privacy

    The ‘off’ button?

    1. I’m going to come up.with an app. The Herm Edwards app. Every time you post something to social media or send a text an “are you sure?” screen pops up accompanied by Edwards yelling “Don’t press send!”

      1. Ha. This just made laugh loud enough in my office that my wife walked downstairs to see what it was.

        1. Your boss had to come downstairs huh?

  8. I don’t want to sound like a rape apologist or anything, but the thing to teach young people is that they shouldn’t send nudes to anyone unless they are comfortable with everyone seeing them, because the probability of that happening is at least 100%.

    1. +1 Anthony’s Weiner.

      1. I was thinking more along the lines of Warty’s nudes, which Playa’s phone is full of for some reason.

        1. So you do search Playa’s phone while he’s in the shower?

          1. Don’t be silly. We shower together.

              1. California water conservation rules are gay.

        2. Hey!

    2. You’re wrong, Hugh.

      NONE of the kids sending nude pics had any issue with others seeing them. It was some other kid who saw it happening and decided to be a rat fink.

      The lesson to young people is: Three Felonies A Day.

      1. That…doesn’t make Hugh wrong, if true.

      2. NONE of the kids sending nude pics had any issue with others seeing them.

        I find that hard to believe. Are there that many exhibitionists out there?

        1. If you send nude pictures of yourself to anyone in electronic form, you are an exhibitionist. You may not know it, but you are:

          1

          a : a perversion in which sexual gratification is obtained from the indecent exposure of one’s genitals (as to a stranger)

          b : an act of such exposure

          2 the act or practice of behaving so as to attract attention to oneself

          1. Maybe you just want to send it to one person, for their sexual gratification. That’s not exhibitionist.

    3. I don’t think I’ve ever used the term “rape apologist” to describe anything other than: use common sense and don’t let other people take advantage of you. So you’re good.

      1. *heard the term used

    4. There’s also the matter of young people being dumb and hormonal, so they may regret sending the nude pic even if it seems like a good idea now. It’s like tattooing a nude picture of yourself on your forehead and then complaining when people look at it.

    5. shouldn’t send nudes to anyone unless they are comfortable with everyone seeing them

      I think, merely uttering the phrase, “What would you think if there were nude photos of your mother or I floating around out there?” would invoke sufficient introspection.

      I’d probably have to monitor their network activity to be sure that we didn’t need to get a mental health professional involved though.

    6. Ask girls if they want some fat, unkempt slob spanking the monkey while looking at pictures of their underaged selves.

      1. Personalize it to the ugly, creepy kid in the class or someone of similar repugnance on the staff. Specifics are more powerful than generalities.

    7. +1

      There is really no halfway-effective solution to the sexting “problem” that is in accordance with the 1A and 4A. It’s unfortunate for the creators of nude selfies that, in our digital age, there’s no way to show a picture to just one person without that person being able to send it all over the world in two seconds, but that’s reality.

      I suppose it should just be one of those “talks” that parents should have with their kids when they reach a sexually expressive age – just a stern explanation that if you send a nude picture, it WILL end up online as whacking material for 40 year old men.

      This is just one more case of moral busybodies who think it’s the government’s job to protect people from their own bad decisions.

  9. Elizabeth, I’m disappionted you didn’t add the ‘FREE RANGE KIDS’ tag on this story.

    Very. Disappointed.

    1. She can’t, it’s Lenore’s and she’s very territorial. She threatened to punch her in the twat if Elizabeth used the tag. True story.

      1. Have you met Lenore? I wouldn’t put it past her.

        (Kidding, kidding, but she is feisty…)

          1. First the middle school girls and now this?

            Goddammit Paul, pull yourself together.

            1. Oh, I’m pulling myself, of that you can be sure.

        1. That doesn’t surprise me at all.

          1. So you pee in the shower, too?

            1. Just ask Hugh.

            2. I wouldn’t need to unzip in the shower.

              I’ve adapted “shelter in place” to “pee in place”. I keep a wide-mouthed gatorade bottle in my desk drawer.

              1. “…wide-mouthed gatorade bottle…”

                GOD, you’re such a size queen.

                1. No, he just has terrible aim and a profound penile palsy.

              2. I wouldn’t need to unzip in the shower.

                Not everyone is in the shower when they pee in it, Mr. Smartypants.

                I keep a wide-mouthed gatorade bottle in my desk drawer.

                People think I keep one in my pants.

  10. “”It is imperative that these students understand the severity of their actions and the impact that their actions have on themselves, “

    Government to Kids = STOP HITTING YOURSELF

    “The only way to teach these kids about the seriousness of these harmless actions is to cause as much harm to them as we can hysterically justify. Because its for the children.”

    1. It works so well for drugs.

    2. Nothing will help these kids out in the rest of their lives like a criminal record.

  11. emphasize that while sexting is okay, it’s immoral to share private images without consent

    I’d suggest emphasizing that sexting is idiotic, because it relies on the fickle feelings and morality of teenagers (or anyone of any age).

    1. Sadly, for teenagers “this is idiotic” is a feature, not a bug.

      Somehow their parents have to make sexting cool so teenagers will stop.

      1. Here’s a technological fix: every text is automatically CC’d to your parents….

  12. Schools: Suspend the kids

    Parents: Take their phones away for specified periods

    Cops and prosecutors: Stay away, you wretched pervs, go jack off to Sports Illustrated like you’re supposed to.

    1. Schools: Suspend the kids Tell the parents.

      I don’t understand how the school should be involved in this at all.

  13. Alt Alt Text: “Tigger Warning!”

  14. The students?19 minors and one 18-year-old?were charged with third-degree invasion of privacy.

    Mad props for linking to the statute, ENB.

    he photographs, films, videotapes, records, or otherwise reproduces in any manner, the image of another person whose intimate parts are exposed or who is engaged in an act of sexual penetration or sexual contact, without that person’s consent and under circumstances in which a reasonable person would not expect to be observed.

    For selfies (which I expect most if not all of these were), I’m struggling with a couple of elements here. First, is the reproduction done without that person’s consent? If somebody sends you a selfie, what’s the default assumption? That by sending someone a picture you are consenting to them distributing it, or that that they can’t distribute it without explicit consent? Probably the latter, but note the critical “and” before the final clause.

    Its not enough that you don’t have consent. I’m struggling with how “under circumstances in which a reasonable person would not expect to be observed” applies to reproducing a picture that someone sent you. The drafting, typically, is crap. Its easy enough to apply this to taking the picture, but reproducing it? When it has been sent to you by the subject? If I send someone a picture of myself, how can I say I did not expect to be observed?

    1. These are the sorts of questions one should ask an attorney, Mr Dean. Do we have any of them about? 😉

      1. As far as i know, Bo is the only one on the boardz. Don’t believe anything you hear from Mr. Clayton Dean or Mr. Libertate.

        1. Paul, there are too many lawyers here at H&R.

    2. Am I being too technically nit-picky when I say that the act of sending a digital photo is reproducing it?

      1. Am I being too technically picky when I say that the carrier (Verizon, AT&T, et al) is one doing the actual sending? The user can only request the photo be sent/reproduced, the carrier has to actually do it.

      2. I would say, before the sending, the reproduction happens at the diode level. Once the photons have been absorbed, the original has been destroyed.

        1. Ceci n’est pas une nudie?

    3. By law the person taking the selfies cannot consent to taking nude pics of themselves.

  15. Maybe parents take away phones

    That’s considered child abuse by some prosecutors.

    1. Yeah, if they can’t call their friends, they may have to walk to their friends’ houses, and that would involve walking alone, and some guy might lure them into a car and drive them to a scary dungeon.

      In other words, some cop might arrest them.

      1. Look, these kids are getting arrested one way or another.

      2. Warty is always on the loose, after all.

  16. OT: A story about Rand Paul from ThoughtProstitution. Standard stuff about police militarization but there’s something that stood out.

    http://thinkprogress.org/justi…..d-country/

    Police departments across the country routinely procure advanced weaponry and technology from the federal government, in order to combat drug crimes. But the transactions often require police forces to use all of the equipment within a year’s time, so departments have also utilized the weaponry to tackle low-level offenses that have nothing to do with drug-related activities ? resulting in excessive uses of force and exacerbating tensions between officers and civilians.

    1. COPS ARE CIVILIANS YOU FUCKING DOLTS.

      (so very angry every time…)

      1. ci?vil?ian
        s??vily?n
        noun
        plural noun: civilians

        1. a person not in the armed services or the police force.

        1. Strangely enough, firefighters get lumped into that category as well.

        2. Fuck Merriam-Webster. We don’t have a gendarmerie. When cops are sent to Ft. Benning or Parris Island upon entry into the academy, then maybe I’ll consider them to not be civilians.

      2. +1 Sam Vimes

        Though his actual quote was “Watchmen is a civilian, you inbred streak of piss!”

  17. Look on the bright side: as long as the police are spending time on stuff like sexting and drugs, it’s much easier to get away with murder and robbery.

  18. This whole thread needs a time out.

  19. Would “fair use” cover the use of Cape May County Prosecutor Robert L. Taylor’s likeness in a photo collage of sheep being fucked?
    I’m asking for a friend.

  20. The school turned matters over to the police, who seized students’ phones and “discovered that numerous nude and partially nude photographs of female students were being exchanged between male students via text message and social media.”

    I’m curious. Are the investigators reviewing the evidence male or female? Because if it’s the former, that’s fucked up and likely the reason the cops bother to get involved. Granted, the school notified the police, but the cops could have easily said, It’s a school matter; you folks handle it.”

    1. Imagine how many times those images have been ‘reproduced’ during the investigation?

      1. For “backup” purposes.

  21. Third degree invasion of privacy sounds like what you’d be charged with if they caught you skulking around the doorway leading to the ladies’ changing rooms at Sears.

  22. Kids take drugs no matter how many of their friends or acquaintances fuck up their lives.
    Kids drive recklessly no matter how many smashed vehicles are parked on the school lawn before prom to show the dangers of drinking and driving. Kids circulating nudie photos of themselves seems to be an un-learnable “danger” and far less deserving of police intervention than actual crimes. A stern talking to would do just as well for punishment as putting some 14 year old girl thru the legal wringer because she showed her boyfriend her boobies.

  23. Tigger is not your word to use, Elizabeth.

    1. Plus its racist towards cats.

      1. ENB always struck me as being a greasy ailurophobe.

  24. Some slick operator could probably get way more than 90k per pic in a gallery somewhwre.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.