This week, a federal judge blocked a prosecutor from filing child pornography charges against three teenage girls in northeastern Pennsylvania over risque cell phone pictures they took of themselves. This respite from the bizarre “sexting” scandal allows time for a national dialogue on an issue that goes deeper than simple changes in technology.
“Sexting” is short for “sex texting,” or the practice of sending racy pictures via text message. Twenty percent of teens admit to distributing nude photos of themselves, according to a recent survey by the National Campaign to Support Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy — a statistic that probably disturbs parents but shouldn’t surprise anyone who remembers what being a teenager was like.
Teenage hormones are almost always raging, and many teens are reckless and looking for attention. Deploying child pornography laws to deal with this reality is like using a sledgehammer to kill a fly. If the girls are found guilty of these overblown charges, they would face not only the possibility of jail time, but also the requirement to register as sexual offenders for at least 10 years.
Clearly, such harsh punishment would be overkill, but the situation is indicative of the growing mentality that government must play the central role in fixing every problem society encounters.
Whether disciplining teens or restructuring failed automobile companies, government is more often than not becoming the “go-to” place for help. Those on both the political left and right have been involved in this slow move to relinquish individual responsibility in favor of government control, so there is plenty of blame to go around.
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