Crimes against "children" by "children"

Another news feature on youth distributing racy pictures of themselves that are legally considered pornography. This story is based out of Southwest Florida, where Lieutenant Tom Smith of Collier County’s Child Sex Crime Unity is quoted as saying: “We’ve had 5-6 cases in the past six months where kids have been taking photos of themselves or friends engaged in sexual activity.”

As with all these stories, the solution seems to be to talk with your kids about the ramifications of doing this. More superficial advice comes from the expert on teen internet use, Dr. Russ Sabella: “Consider giving them a cell phone with limited capabilities. Why do they need video recording capabilities on their cell phones anyway?” He also states that motivations for sending these pictures include wanting to mimic celebrity sex tapes.

I think getting behind youth motivation to send these pictures is key. If it is to imitate the celebs, then warning them about mass distribution of the photos would be a bad strategy (instead, it might be wiser to talk about the criminality of the act). If the goal for taking the picture is to impress a crush, better relationship education may be in order. If the reason is to get back at someone, we need to think about netiquette, cyberbullying prevention efforts, and empathy raising. But we won’t know until we ask.