Our collective obsession about protecting the children has taken some strange turns as of late. As The Guardian reports:
A teenage boy in North Carolina has been prosecuted for having nude pictures of himself on his own mobile phone. The young man, who is now 17 but was 16 at the time the photos were discovered, had to strike a plea deal to avoid potentially going to jail and being registered as a sex offender.
Experts condemned the case as ludicrous. The boy was, however, punished by the courts, and had to agree to be subject to warrantless searches by law enforcement for a year, in addition to other penalties.
The young man was also named in the media and suffered a suspension as quarterback of his high school football team while the case was being resolved.
Cormega Copening, of Fayetteville, North Carolina, was prosecuted as an adult under federal child pornography felony laws, for sexually exploiting a minor. The minor was himself.
His girlfriend was also prosecuted for having a naked photo of herself. Later in the article it’s noted that, as a part of her plea deal, she was required to take a class in “making good decisions.” One wonders if North Carolina prosecutors couldn’t also benefit from sitting in on the class.
A similar scenario could play out right here in Kentucky, as well. Kentucky law has no provision to exempt teens who take naked photos of themselves. As the Guardian indicates, 30% of teens take and swap naked pictures of themselves with their significant others. While cases where prosecutors decide to criminally charge teens for doing just that are (thankfully) rare, the fact that they could charge kids for being, essentially, kids (and potentially saddle them with criminal records and sex offender registration) should really make people wonder about the state of the law.
Kentucky legislators have tried to pass legislation that would prevent prosecutors from charging kids for sexting, though those proposals have been shot down thus far.