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Thursday, March 26, 2009

ACLU sues prosecutor in sexting case

In a federal lawsuit, the American Civil Liberties Union is suing the Pennsylvania district attorney who has "threatened to charge [three] girls with felony child porn violations over digital photos they took of themselves," Wired reports. "The lawsuit says the threat to prosecute the minors 'is unprecedented and stands anti-child-pornography laws on their head'." Wired adds that District Attorney George Skumanick is running for re-election in May. This is the worst-case scenario that parents and teens need to be aware of: a zealous prosecutor and minors with no criminal intent (or even awareness that their behavior was illegal). A New York Times blogger painted the legal picture pretty graphically today, showing how laws written to protect children have not caught up with "the dicey mix of teenagers’ age-old sexual curiosity, notoriously bad judgment and modern love of electronic sharing." I do believe, though, that merely sharing this story with young people at your house or school is all the education most of them need to avoid sexting. A few more details on Skumanick's approach: Wired blogger Kim Zetter reports that "in a meeting with the students and their parents, he said he would file felony charges against the students unless they agreed to six months of probation, among other terms. He gave the parents 48 hours to agree. The parents of the three girls in the ACLU suit refused to sign. Skumanick then threatened to charge the girls with producing child porn unless their parents agreed to the probation, and sent the teenagers to a five-week, 10-hour education program to discuss why what they did was wrong and what it means to be a girl in today's society." [See also our sexting prevention tips at ConnectSafely.org, and this from my co-director Larry Magid about the need for calm discussion.]

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1 Comments:

Blogger Dr. Kris said...

So, they are going to prosecute the GIRLS unless the PARENTS agree to something? Isn't that at least a wee bit odd?

I am very interested in this case from a policy standpoint. Child pornography laws as written do not work well with technology. Then again, neither do general pornography laws.

10:15 AM  

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