June 19, 2012

Sexting a dangerous game

Not everyone who breaks the law is a real criminal. Most of the people I saw as defendants in Plattsburgh City Court made bad, even stupid, choices. Like the high-school kids who “sexted,” sending text or Twitter messages with nude or semi-nude photographs of themselves attached. The sender takes his or her own photos and willingly sends them to a boyfriend or girlfriend or someone else they trust.

They thought it was fun and expected it was private, just between the two of them. However, that is not guaranteed. The recipient can make it available for others, even the whole school, to see and share. This happens when kids get mad at each other or when images are shared with a couple of friends, who then share them with others.

It also happens when the recipient is deceiving you and is not the trustworthy person you thought. We’ve seen cases where the threat to post the photo is essentially used to try to blackmail the person, to make them do something they do not want to do, including staying in a relationship they want to leave.

An instant communication can have lifetime consequences.

At age 16 in New York state, a person who breaks the law is charged as an adult. So City Court and the district attorney see quite a few teenagers. After your 16th birthday, you no longer go to family court; your case is in criminal court.


New York has long had laws against harassing or intimidating another person. For decades, these cases involved taunts or threats made in person, by letter or telephone. Now such offensive behavior is more likely to be found on Facebook or Twitter or in text messages. Each of these methods can increase the harassment and devastating impact far beyond that of previous times. A single post on Facebook or Twitter is seen by multitudes. Although it is not sent directly to the targeted person, the harm to that victim can be far greater than if it were. It can influence others to join in the harassment and intimidation, and publicly humiliate the target. Offensive text messaging can be nonstop, sending dozens, hundreds of messages.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • Terry_Mattingly.jpg Easter with doubters and the 'nones'

    Should more pastors ask this blunt question: "Do you really believe Jesus was raised from the dead?" wonders religion columnist Terry Mattingly.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Canadiens are Canada's team

    The National Hockey League playoffs are underway, and for Canadiens fans, many of whom likely reside in the Montreal "suburb" of Plattsburgh, it is a time of hope and joy.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • little_mug.jpg There's no saw like an old saw Kaye and I laughed ourselves silly the other day as we tried to top each other with our own sayings from childhood, columnist Gordie Little writes.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Denenberg_Stu1.jpg Privacy concerns make a comeback

    There's a growing concern amongst the millennials, columnist Stu Denenberg writes.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • paul_grasso.jpg Several options exist for downtown

    Pedestrian mall just one idea that could be good for city's economic future, according to columnist Paul Grasso.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg Government can't create success on its own

    It takes a grass-roots community effort of people working together to assure future accomplishment, according to columnist Colin Read.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Farmers strive for sustainability

    Conserving the land and assuring long-term profitability are two of the key goals for farmers these days, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Big shift in Quebec vote

    Being a man of science, Philippe Couillard, premier-designate of Quebec, chose to use a geological term (though his field is actually medicine) to describe what happened in Monday's election, writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Terry_Mattingly.jpg A monastery in the Hebrides, after 1,000 years

    Before Father Seraphim Aldea can build a monastery on Scotland's Mull Island, he needs to have a working septic system, writes religion columnist Terry Mattingly.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tobias_Sue_012914.jpg Old movies offer more than entertaining TV

    Columnist Susan Tobias and her husband, Toby, are reminded of simple childhood memories while watching an old black-and-white movie.

    April 9, 2014 1 Photo

Peter Black: Canadian Dispatch

Lois Clermont, Editor

Cornell Cooperative Extension
Richard Gast: Cornell Ag Extension

Bob Grady

Guest Columns
Peter Hagar: Cornell Ag Connection

Health Advice

Ray Johnson: Climate Science
Gordie Little: Small Talk

Terry Mattingly: On Religion

Steve Ouellette: You Had To Ask

Colin Read: Everybody's Business

Pinch of Time