Sexting: 14 -year-old Girl Arrested for Porn

In a bizarre case in New Jersey, a 14-year-old girl was arrested and charged with child pornography after posting nude photos of herself on her MySpace page. Known as sexting, the case comes as prosecutors nationwide are pursuing cases resulting from tweens sending nude photos to one another over cell phones and e-mail. What happened was The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children tipped off a state task force, which alerted the Passaic County Sheriff's Office. The Associated Press then reported "This is a wake-up call to parents" because "she wanted her boyfriend to see these very explicit photos." The girl, whose name has not been released because of her age, has been charged with possession and distribution of child pornography. She was released to her mother's custody. If convicted of the distribution charge, she would be forced to register with the state as a sex offender under Megan's Law and go to jail.

It's bizarre because at that point the law has been flipped to punish the very people that it was designed to protect, as pointed out on It's controversial because concerned parents and citizens are criticizing the trend of prosecuting teens who send racy text messages or post illicit photos of themselves. They do not want to charge teens under laws that were designed to protect them, including Maureen Kanka, the mother of the girl that inspired Megan's law. "This shouldn't fall under Megan's Law, this girl needs counseling because the only person she exploited was herself." The legal question up for debate is when a teen chooses to exploit him or herself online or on some other platform, can authorities then claim that the teen is committing a crime? Prosecutors in states including Pennsylvania, Connecticut, North Dakota, Ohio, Utah, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin are trying stop it by charging teens a fine who send and receive the pictures because they "knowingly" do so.

Get real. The lesson comes back to where it always leads: family. Parents need to communicate values to their children, engage with them in their lives, and keep tabs on who they're communicating with... there is such a thing as a digital footprint. The challenge is that many teens and tweens are far more technically savvy than their parents, teachers, and even authorities. This is why next month NetLingo is announcing a special series called "Get With the Program" to help bridge the digital generation gap between adults and kids. It will teach parents and educators how to empower kids to use the Internet productively, and it will teach everyone about current Internet trends and technology, highlight the important issues you need to know, and keep you up-to-date on all of the Internet terminology used in our online world.

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