Making young teens register as sex offenders is foolish, but decriminalization is not the solution – especially for those who pass along sexual images without consent.
Let’s not ignore the most relevant question: Is this new and exploding behavioral trend good, bad or neutral for those involved and for the public at large?
Many must believe it is “neutral” or even trivial, if they prefer no systematic consequences.
But it is flat-out wrong and dangerous, often with life-impacting consequences for those involved.
Especially for the female subjects who are left with their reputations in tatters and futures in doubt, while the teen male traffickers get off scot-free.
As Vicki Courtney, author of “Five Conversations You Must Have With Your Daughter,” wrote in an e-mail to me:
“Girls are often convinced to do this for the guys to get their attention. Then in a breakup situation, the guys often use it against them later. If you legalize sexting, the guys come out as the clear winners. The girls pay.”
One of the main reasons teens do this is that they don’t think it’s a big deal. And how will they ever recognize that it is without systemic consequences?
Most of these same kids would never steal a DVD from a store. They may be tempted to, but they know it is wrong and that they’ll be caught and punished.
Being 15 years old and stupid is no excuse.
Passing along someone else’s sexual image is far worse than stealing, yet Andrea wants to make being “young” and “impulsive” a legal free pass.
By contrast, Kari Glemaker, national director for iCare, an initiative of the National Coalition for the Protection of Children and Families, pointed out in a recent interview:
“If you shoplift as a minor, there is still a consequence, just not as big as for an adult. Similarly, my county is looking to define sexting as a misdemeanor, without jail time if there is no other criminal background, possibly with a fine or community service, as well as awareness classes.
“To say there should be no legal consequence until age 18 is ludicrous.”
Andrea and those other parents agree that sexting is a big deal, but that we shouldn’t treat it as such. I say if we don’t treat it as such, then teenagers will never realize it is a big deal.
Shaunti Feldhahn (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a conservative Christian author and speaker, and married mother of two.