Setting aside con­cerns such as, what if it was your daugh­ter that did this, on the face of it the actions taken against six Pennsylvania teenagers are just plain damn stupid.

[S]ix Pennsylvania high school stu­dents are fac­ing child pornog­ra­phy charges after three teenage girls allegedly took nude or semi-​​nude pho­tos of them­selves and shared them with male class­mates via their cell phones.

The girls were 14 and 15 years old at the time they took the pic­tures of them­selves. They’re going to be pros­e­cuted for pro­duc­ing and dis­trib­ut­ing child pornog­ra­phy, and their friends are charged with pos­ses­sion of it.

If con­victed, they’ll all have to reg­is­ter as sex offend­ers. They’ll be regarded with the same kind of con­tempt as sex­ual “preda­tors”.

And the “ratio­nale” for the pros­e­cu­tion is as vapid as the charges them­selves. To begin with the intent is to “send a strong mes­sage” to other teens. Furthermore,

It’s very dan­ger­ous,” [police cap­tain George Seranko] said. “Once it’s on a cell phone, that cell phone can be put on the Internet where every­one in the world can get access to that juve­nile pic­ture. You don’t real­ize what you are doing until it’s already done.”

This is as inar­tic­u­late as it is ludi­crous. Images are not of them­selves dan­ger­ous to begin with; they’re just pic­tures. And I’d be gen­uinely sur­prised to learn that they (not the cel­lu­lar phones them­selves) would be “put on the Internet” along with full con­tact infor­ma­tion — which would indeed be risky. However, the cur­rent crop of teens, well-​​familiar with Facebook et. al. and quite capa­ble of nav­i­gat­ing online haz­ards, would likely not be stu­pid enough to post world­wide the equiv­a­lent of bath­room “for a good time call…” graffiti.

To pros­e­cute as a child pornog­ra­pher a fifteen-​​year-​​old for tak­ing pic­tures of her­self is sim­ply indefensible.

So, get­ting to the ques­tion of if it were my daugh­ter doing this: If she wasn’t coerced, if she actu­ally wanted to do it, I’d prob­a­bly be okay with it. Well, not pre­cisely okay, but def­i­nitely not in favor of crim­i­nal pros­e­cu­tion for her or her puta­tive boyfriend. But that’s because I like ot think I’m some­what more capa­ble of ratio­nal thought than, say, Police Capt. George Seranko of Greensburg.

There’s noth­ing inher­ently dan­ger­ous in a few teens tak­ing a few risqué pic­tures of them­selves … at least, not unless the police hear about it.

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