Press-Republican

FYI...

April 22, 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.

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