Three teenage friends, two girls and one boy, regularly shared videos by group text message to each other on their mobile devices. Through the bond of their friendship, there was an unspoken assumption that whatever was shared among them would remain private. There was an element to their video sharing practice of trying to outdo each other with each video posted and shared. This assumption was put to the test when one sensitive video did not stay among them.
The 16-year-old maker and sender of the video made a sexually explicit video of herself and sent it to the other teens on the group chat chain. The male teen, 17 at the time, shared a copy of the video with his school resource officer from the county sheriff’s office. The other female teen, who was 16 at the time, shared the video with other students. Before long, the video was widely distributed throughout the school. The maker of the video remained home from school for 30 days unwilling to return to school because of the backlash she was experiencing from the other students.
The only person charged with a crime for this incident, in juvenile court, was the 16-year-old maker and sender of the video. Possession and distribution of child pornography is a crime in the teen’s jurisdiction, the State of Maryland. It is also a crime in California.
Self-produced child pornography is a touchy subject. While on the one hand, the teen in this case was immature and an argument can be made that she did not appreciate the consequences of making a sexually explicit video of herself, she consented to sharing the video with her friends because she made the post herself and released it to them. She did not, however, consent to its release to the entire student body. On the other hand, child pornography is the trade of videos and photographs which depict children engaging in sexual acts. Outside of the school, this video may be on someone else’s electronic device and as such, it is being used to exploit children. The only way to combat its use is by banning possession of it strictly, as would be the case in almost all U.S. states. Continue reading