If there is a single lesson children can learn when it comes to a disturbing practice of sending suggestive photos of themselves to friends from their phones, it is that once a photo is out there, it is out there in cyberspace forever.
A Scioto County school reported this week on an incident that occurred back in February in which 13 and 14 year old boys and girls sent photos, including some nude photos, to each other – photos that eventually were shared among several individuals. In a report in the Scioto County Sheriff’s Office the incident is covered under the title – Illegal Use of a Minor in Nudity-Oriented Material.
“The persons who should be telling these kids not to do this crap are the parents who are supposed to be in charge of these young kids, who are also probably paying for these cellphones,” Scioto County Sheriff Marty V. Donini said. “It’s not law enforcement’s position to bring your children up in society.”
The scenario in the official report was that a girl sent photos of herself to her boyfriend. The two apparently broke up, and the boy gave his password to another girl who went in, found the photos, and began sending them to several people. Among them was, according to the report, at least one nude photo.
“This generation and the previous generation is just totally different,” Donini said. “They don’t understand. Once you put those photos on the internet it’s there forever.”
Chief Deputy Todd Miller said both detectives Jodi Conkel and Denver Triggs have gone to schools to speak on the subject of cellphone safety. Miller said the sheriff’s office had just received a call from a Scioto County school asking for just such a presentation sometime soon.
“They have gone to schools and talked to them about cellphone safety and about putting pictures out and that once they’re out – they’re out,” Miller said. “Some of the stuff is pornography – it’s criminal and they’re taking selfies of themselves, partially-nude, and sending it. So it can get into legal (issues).”
Miller said it is misleading for people to trust that one app – Snapchat automatically deletes videos sent within seconds of their being sent. Not only is everything still in cyberspace, but people take videos of the Snapchat videos and preserve them if they want to.
According to Mobile Media Guard – currently, a minor who is caught creating, distributing or possessing a sexually explicit image of a minor could be prosecuted under the State of Ohio’s child pornography laws and if convicted, required to register as a sex offender. There is proposed legislation that would reduce the severity of the crime for minors caught sexting to a misdemeanor and no requirement to register as a sex offender.
In general, under Ohio’s child pornography laws it is a felony offense to:
- Create, record, film, develop reproduce or publish any material that shows a minor participating in a sexual activity.
- Sell or advertise any material of a minor engaged in a sexual act.
- Knowingly solicit, receive, purchase, exchange, possess or control any material that shows a minor participating or engaging in a sexual activity.
- Photograph any minor in the state of nudity, or create, transfer, or produce any material that shows a minor in a state of nudity.
If convicted could receive up to 8 years in jail and/or a fine and will need to register as a sex offender.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.