The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

National News

April 10, 2014

Teens trading naked selfies for mugshots



Will teenagers ever learn? You think yours will. Maybe so. But it's likely that was also the hope of the parents of children who were so shamed by nude photos of themselves that went south - how else can they go - that they killed themselves.

Sexting hasn't ended, despite the misery it causes and the hope that easily bored teens will move on to something else. There were two fresh highly public outbreaks this month. The largest spread across six counties in Virginia, where more than 1,000 pictures of naked 14- and 15-year-olds were pinged by 100 teens on Instagram.

The fun stopped when a mother found some unfortunate photos on her daughter's Instagram account. The kid had been playing a game - a variation of "I'll show you mine if you show me yours" - in which teens could get access to nude photos of others by posting one of themselves.

 In the second incident, a group of middle-school children in Barrington, Ill., an affluent suburb of Chicago, were sexting. Will pre-pubescent teens be next?

The police are involved in both cases, and criminal charges could be brought. A photo of a naked underage teen is child pornography, a felony. Teens don't realize that, or block it out. Holed up in a room, or at a party, snapping a crotch shot apparently seems like such a nifty, fun thing to do. (Adults can be stupid, too. See former Rep. Anthony Weiner, aka Carlos Danger.)

Having the nude shot replaced by a mug shot might be a good thing. It could wake up the stupidest kid.

In the meantime, what's happened to parents? They understand the peril but often cite the fear of invading their teen's privacy as reason not to intervene - as if a mindless kid ruled by hormones should be able to keep sexting private when Mom and Dad are paying for the smartphone.

Invade away. The cost of having a parent pay for your unlimited texting should be that you can't ruin your life or someone else's by sexting. Just as there are parental controls on television, there is widely available software to monitor the devices kids walk around with. Some will send the parent any photo the child takes before it can take flight.

Parents have to realize there isn't a sufficient shaming mechanism at work these days. There wasn't one when I was a kid, either. But back then, mistakes didn't go viral.

The urge to share is so great that in a notorious case, a group of teenagers on the football team in Steubenville, Ohio, took pictures of their criminal behavior. They had video of partygoers cheering on the players as they violated a girl. They drew a line at sending a picture of one of them urinating on the victim but a kid bragged about it online.

The perpetrators' photos convicted them. To his credit, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine didn't stop there. As hard as it is to imagine (or perhaps not where football is concerned), adults had covered for the students. DeWine indicted them, too.

Maybe that case didn't get enough publicity to curb sexting because it apparently remains endemic. If criminal charges are brought in Virginia and Barrington, let's hope it makes headlines and becomes a teachable moment in every middle and high school. Maybe that's what it takes to get through those thick skulls.

In the meantime, just put a nanny device on your kid's phone while pointing out something teens already should know: Their privacy can't be invaded because no one has any left.

 

1
Text Only
National News
  • Arizona's prolonged lethal injection is fourth in U.S. this year

    Arizona's execution of double-murderer Joseph Wood marked the fourth time this year that a state failed to dispatch a convict efficiently, according to the Constitution Project, a bipartisan legal group.3

    July 24, 2014

  • 10 things to know for today

    Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today:

     

    July 24, 2014

  • Arizona high court delays planned execution

    Arizona's highest court on Wednesday temporarily halted the execution of a condemned inmate so it could consider a last-minute appeal.

    July 23, 2014

  • Obama declares Washington wildfire emergency

    Wetter, cooler weather has helped firefighters make progress in their efforts to get the largest wildfire in Washington state's history under control.

    July 23, 2014

  • 10 things to know for today

    Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today:

     

    July 23, 2014

  • Lawmakers face long to-do list, uncertain success WASHINGTON (AP) — A gridlocked Congress failed to do the big things: overhauling the nation’s immigration system, reforming the loophole-cluttered tax code and stiffening background checks on gun buyers. Now it’s time to see whether it can just do th

    July 23, 2014

  • 2008 law at center of border debate WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. Dianne Feinstein recalls turning on her television and seeing a young Chinese girl crying before a judge, without even an interpreter to help her after surviving a harrowing journey to the U.S.That was the genesis of a law six

    July 23, 2014

  • SEC poised to end $1 a share for some money funds WASHINGTON (AP) — Regulators are expected to vote Wednesday to end a longtime staple of the investment industry — the fixed $1 share price for money-market mutual funds — at least for some money funds used by big investors.The idea is to minimize the

    July 23, 2014

  • Working-class whites lose voting dominance in Ohio COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — For the first time, working-class whites make up less than half of Ohio’s eligible voters, part of a demographic shift in a key Midwestern swing state that is pushing political parties to widen their appeal beyond the once-domin

    July 23, 2014

  • mama.jpg What we get wrong about millennials living at home

    If the media is to be believed, America is facing a major crisis. "Kids," some age 25, 26, or even 30 years old, are living out of their childhood bedrooms and basements at alarmingly high numbers. The hand-wringing overlooks one problem: It's all overblown.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

AP Video
Facebook