In April, residents of Louisa County, Va. When Hanna Rosin asked teens from Louisa County High School how many people they knew who had sexted, a lot of them replied: "Everyone. In her report on the Louisa County scandal for The Atlantic, Rosin set out to address the question, why are so many teenagers sending each other nude photos? How much does teen sexting have to do with actual sex? How should parents, and communities, respond? And how do child pornography laws apply? But by the law any picture of a minor is illegal and so they just ask the girl[s] who they call in for interviews, "Well, do you know anyone else who has naked pictures on their phone? And remember: This is a relatively small town so people are trusting the police officers.
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Nowadays, teenagers are snapping naked pictures of themselves on their cell phones and sending them to their boyfriends and girlfriends. School administrators in Santa Fe, Texas, confiscated dozens of cell phones from students in May after nude photos of two junior high girls began circulating. The girls had sent the photos to their boyfriends, who forwarded them to others, officials said. In La Crosse, Wis. Mark Yehle. Psychologists said the phenomenon reflects typical teenage hormones and lack of judgment, with technology multiplying the potential for mischief. It also may reflect a teenage penchant for exhibitionism, as demonstrated on MySpace and countless other Web sites and blogs. Brianna Moran, 15, who attends the same school as the girl in the La Crosse case, said she is not surprised by such behavior.
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.
Several years ago, when my son was a newly minted teenager, I discovered, on accident, that he was receiving nude pictures from a young lady at his school. I would have never believed it had I not seen it with my own eyes, and sadly: I did. I stared at him and made a weird noise. I explained what I saw but told him not to look. It turned out this young lady, who was a few months shy of turning 18, was the only one sending pictures. This girl was apparently stringing along a steady boyfriend in her own grade while promising my son, a freshman in high school, that she loved him the most. She played the needy, clingy sex-nymph character as if it were a script, written just for her. I knew it would be near impossible to keep them from one another, especially since they saw each other every day at school and rode the same and only bus. There was one more complication. It was a unique, delicate situation that required discretion.