Teenagers are always up to mischief– you can’t trust them to behave in the manner adults feel that they should. The problem is exasperated by the advance of the digital revolution due to the instantaneous, and often unfiltered, dispatch of messages and images. These kids need to be stopped now!–Right?– No, wrong! We saw in Colorado how students can quickly attract unwanted attention when they trade nude pictures of themselves on the internet. People want the students prosecuted; we thought it was a matter best left to the parents and school officials. The problem is, prosecutors have the tools to prosecute these kids, and millions of other similarly situated young adults across the country, under archaic or senseless laws that make it a crime for these youngsters to disseminate nude images of themselves because they are legally minors. People find it reprehensible for adults to traffic in the exchange of nude photos and images of minors, often for profit or sexual paedophilic purposes. But laws aimed at addressing these matters should not be applied to teenagers exchanging sexual images.– They are not logically connected except possibly in the minds of the most fervent and radical God-fearing evangelical. These kids become entangled in the legal webs cast by short-sighted and overly zealous legislatures– many who depend on the votes of their neo-Christian voter base to remain in office.
We agree with the New York Times that laws in many states should be changed to reflect the times. Whether these kids should be prosecuted is certainly a matter that should not be left to the discretion of judges or prosecutors: These laws should never apply to these kids to start with. Teenagers already have enough hurdles to vault, and they don’t need felonies (or any lesser crime) attached to their history because they were engaged in 21st Century behavior. People can move to the Middle East if they desire prohibitions on innocent and consensual teenage sexual behavior.