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Vermont Moves to Reduce Teen "Sexting" Charges

Vermont Moves to Reduce Teen "Sexting" Charges

Is anyone as baffled as I am that this ever became an issue? Most states, including Vermont, don't distinguish between pedophiles who own and distribute sexually explicit images of minors and minors (probably mostly underage teenage girls) who send texts with naked pictures of themselves to their hormonally overcharged minor boyfriends.

"If a 14-year-old girl decides to send a picture of her breasts to her boyfriend who's 15," said Vermont State Sen. John Campbell, "she has just become a transmitter of child pornography and he is in possession of child pornography. And as such, they are now on the lifetime sex-offender registry.”

What does this mean for them? Try getting into college (or a job) as a registered sex offender. As a result of this harsh penalty, the Vermont legislature has proposed decriminalizing consensual "sexting" between kids who are between 13 and 18 — but some people think this is encouraging teens to continue.

Isn't the whole point of these laws to keep images of underage teens away from creepy adults? There has to be a better way of encouraging kids with impulse control problems from getting naked and sending pictures of themselves to their puppy loves than to charge them with an adult offense. The law recognizes and tempers the repercussion against kids who commit violent acts — why not something dumb like sexting? (And are my eyes deceiving me, or is Internet Safety Expert Donna Rice up there the Donna Rice from the Gary Hart "Monkey Business" scandal that ended his campaign for the presidency in 1987?!) Click here to read more.

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jenintx jenintx 8 years
I'm on the fence about this, but I tend to lean to CG's side. I think registering as a sex offender is entirely too harsh of a punishment, but, as I said in the first post on this whole sexting issue, it comes down to personal responsibility. Yeah, kids may be kids, and I was far from perfect as a teen, but even I knew that you didn't take those kinds of pictures if you aren't prepared for everyone to see them (same goes for now). Because no matter how much you think you may trust someone, people fight and breakups happen. This is definitely a grey area for me because I do see both sides. I don't, however, think we should entirely leave it up to parents because clearly not all parents are doing their parts in this (by warning their children in the first place). If parents are expecting the state to teach their kids about sex ed and everything else, why can't the state have a say in what is legal?
luckykarma luckykarma 8 years
Wow, now of course this is a touchy topic! This is a parents responsibility! Their parents should be teaching them what is appropriate and what is not, and it should stay in the home and the police shouldn't get involved unless it is actually a crime! I agree, teenagers think they are invincible, they do whatever they want anyways, we were all teenagers once! All it really comes down to is it shouldn't be a crime for someone to send pictures of themselves to someone they are involved with, even teenagers. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Personal possession of obscene material in the home may not be prohibited by law. In writing for the Court in the case of Stanley v. Georgia, 394 U.S. 557 (1969), Justice Thurgood Marshall wrote, "If the First Amendment means anything, it means that a State has no business telling a man, sitting in his own house, what books he may read or what films he may watch." However, it is not unconstitutional for the government to prevent the mailing or sale of obscene items, though they may be viewed only in private. Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition, 535 U.S. 234 (2002), further upheld these rights by invalidating the Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996, holding that, because the act "[p]rohibit[ed] child pornography that does not depict an actual child..." it was overly broad and unconstitutional under the First Amendment. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote: "First Amendment freedoms are most in danger when the government seeks to control thought or to justify its laws for that impermissible end. The right to think is the beginning of freedom, and speech must be protected from the government because speech is the beginning of thought."
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
nevermind.
chatondeneige chatondeneige 8 years
But that's what you're doing, CG. Every single post you've made up until this one has been, at least in part, about how I was mean to you in my original post. It is unnecessary, and I'd love for you to GTF over it. I'm done defending myself, if you want to take offense to my first post, go for it. You learn from bad behavior, just like your parents and aunts and uncles did. And they tried to pass that on to you, and you still made mistakes. But having made mistakes in their past, I'm sure they were more understanding of your mistakes. Just because they didn't make the same mistakes doesn't mean that they get to be extra judgy of your mistakes. Teens make mistakes, everyone seems to acknowledge that, but that doesn't mean they should be labeled as sex offenders for the rest of their lives. No one should have their life ruined permanently due to sending a naughty picture when they were 16. That's all it boils down to, and it seems pretty unbending and harsh to not agree with that.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
But thats toddlers, we are talking teens who know right (almost typed write...why is that?) from wrong. Its not the pot calling the kettle black, in my opinion. You learn from bad behavior, you pass on those lessons, doesnt make you a hypocrite. And We could have a marvelous debate, if you would stop the "you want to whine about me being mean" stuff. thats just unnecessary.
chatondeneige chatondeneige 8 years
You can tell them what you think you should do, but that's really the pot calling the kettle black, isn't it? Clearly we've come to an impasse here, you want to whine about me being mean, I never had any malicious intent in my comment, you want to whine about me being mean, I never had any malicious intent in my comment, and repeat... We can go on like this all afternoon, or you can get over it. I don't think that it's good behavior, but I do think it's normal. Just like I don't think that a 2 year old throwing a tantrum to get what he wants is good behavior, but I think it's normal. Should we try to quell it? Yes, absolutely, without a doubt, as I've said. But when I see a 3 year old hit another 3 year old in the course to get what he wants, I don't think that the state charge him with assault. I still think that the 3 year old shouldn't throw tantrums, and he shouldn't hit, but it's something many 3 year olds do, appropriate or not.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
I am sorry Chaton, but I can as an adult who has made mistakes in my past CAN tell my nieces and nephews and children what not to do. or "rip" on them as you put it. It wasnt a "general" "You", seeing the comment was to me!!! "just being teens" means what? having sex? showing off body parts? Lets not enable them further by dismissing bad behavior as normal!
chatondeneige chatondeneige 8 years
That wasn't personal at all. Sorry for using a general "you" without specifying, I meant everyone who's condemning teens for being dumbass teenagers. You're taking things way too seriously today, CG. :oy: I just cant' see how anyone who wasn't picture perfect in their teens could rip on teens for doing things that teens do. And Roar is right on with this - teens definitely have that air of invincibility, so making it serious isn't going to deter much, if any sexting. If parents are too lazy to block picture messaging on a potentially promiscuous teen's phone, that's their issue, not the state's. Like Christne said, it should be up to the parents to teach the teen not to sext, and teens shouldn't become sex offenders for simply being teens.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
"CG, I didn't get personal, at all. It's the internet, and I'm pretty sure you're reading into my comments too seriously. Don't be hypersensitive, and remember, it's the internet." "But then, maybe you were perfect in your teens." That sentence was getting personal, what do my teens have to do with anything? if i was bad or good? who cares.
Chrstne Chrstne 8 years
I mean, teach your kids to censor what they send via text...or not send something that they may not want their parents to see. If they do, kids do that. Don't charge them with a felony for basically being a teenager.
Roarman Roarman 8 years
"Making it a felony, lumping it in with pedophilia is harsh but if that is what makes them all wake up and stop doing it?" Except that it probably won't help because a main attitude at that age is that it won't happen to me. There is a level of invincibility in teens. It is punishing a person for life for making a poor decision in their hormonal teen years. The punishment does not fit the crime. Let the parents handle it. It's easy enough to block in going and out going text messages from cell phones.
Gdeeaz Gdeeaz 8 years
i do think the punishment is to harsh but there needs to be something done about the problem. I work with teenagers who are 13-16, some of them send pictures to everybody in their contact list, not just someone they have a crush on.
chatondeneige chatondeneige 8 years
You brought up a great point I hadn't thought of, too, skigurl. But I think that if a 16 year old is distributing pictures of herself to creepy guys on the street/online, rather than a creepy guy distributing pictures of a 16 year old, she's charged with distributing child pornography, as well? I'm not sure, we'd have to ask someone with more legal smarts than I have!
skigurl skigurl 8 years
go chatondeneige! agreeeed
chatondeneige chatondeneige 8 years
CG, I didn't get personal, at all. It's the internet, and I'm pretty sure you're reading into my comments too seriously. Don't be hypersensitive, and remember, it's the internet. ;) And like Chouette said, it ruins someone's life. I knew a guy when I was 17 - he was 18 with a 16 year old long term girlfriend whose parents got pissed that they'd been having sex and had the 18 year old charged with statutory. A guy who's been dating a girl for years and has sex with her clearly isn't a pedophile, and neither are these dumbass girls who send people pictures of themselves. It's hardly fair or logical to say that they should face the same consequences as adults who force themselves on children or teens.
skigurl skigurl 8 years
not to mention, if an older man asks a younger girl for a picture and she obliges, HE is charged, but in that case she still isn't.....but if the younger girl is asked by her sameage boyfriend in a romantic relationship, she is charged? how is that sensical? both times the girl is naive. most girls are MORE swayed by peers than by creeps on the street.
Chouette4u Chouette4u 8 years
CaterpillarGirl, I agree that we need to teach our kids not to do stupid things, but in this case the punishment is way to harsh for the "crime". Being a registered sex-offender really ruins your life, and I don't think underage "sexting" warrants that.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
well I would actually argue for a kind of warning, charge them with something minor and tell them if they do it again its the bigtime. and dont get personal please. its a discussion not a brawl. be civilized.
chatondeneige chatondeneige 8 years
CG, you would argue that a girl who, at 14, sent a picture of her boobs to a boyfriend, should never be allowed to live within 5000 feet of a school? That she, at the age of 23, shouldn't be able to teach students? That in some states, she shouldn't be allowed to live near a park, or near roller rinks? That she should be forced to wear a GPS tracking device for years? Frankly, I think that's a bit to extreme for something a dumbass teenager did. But then, maybe you were perfect in your teens.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
I agree with the law, there should be punishment for these kids as well as long lasting repercussions. We as a society are lackadaisical in teaching these kids right from wrong, and because of that there is more bullying, teenage sexting, BJ's in the boys bathrooms, abusing alchohol and their bodies for sex. These kids KNOW what they are doing, by sending nude photos, are wrong and when they get caught and there is a heavy consequence they cry "I didnt know" they might not have known it was a felony, but they sure as heck knew it wasnt the right thing to do. Making it a felony, lumping it in with pedophilia is harsh but if that is what makes them all wake up and stop doing it? then thats okay with me. and parents need to Inform their kids of those consequences "here is a cell phone, dont send naked pictures of yourself or forward any of anyone else its a felony" Just like you inform them of illegal drug use, drinking and driving and tossing infants in the trash can at prom.
chatondeneige chatondeneige 8 years
:cheer: skigurl, exactly. I'm sorry, but to charge someone with a felony, a felony which will affect them for the rest of their lives (when they have to register as a sex offender) for sending pictures of themselves? It's ridiculous.
skigurl skigurl 8 years
i agree, this is ridiculous for one, if a nude underage person in any and all contexts is considered child porn then i guess parents cant take pictures of their babies in bathtubs and i better not look at myself in the mirror when i get out of the shower two, 14 year olds don't know any better....sending something like that to their boyfriend may come back to bite them in the ass but what 14 year old knows anything about pedophilia laws? it seems insane to tell a 14 year old after the fact that she's committed a giant felony when she is none the wiser about it in the first place.... kids know not to send pictures to strang men on the internet, not to talk to strangers, not to drink and drive, not to steal, but now i guess you better start incorporating legal issues into sex ed because puppy love relationships are going to star ruining lives under these laws
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