"Sexting:" Innocent Exploration?

. Tuesday, May 26

Some youths in the US now face pornography charges for "sexting," using a cell phone to send nude images of themselves to friends. Peter Cumming, a York University professor, claims that the practice is a modern-day version of spin-the-bottle or strip poker. He says there needs to be a line between nudity and pornography, and that sexting is just another way of exploring sexuality.

Earlier this year, three teenage girls were caught with a photo of two girls from the waist up, wearing only a bra. The girls were sentenced to five weeks of behavior courses and ordered drug tests. One boy was labeled a sex offender for sending his girlfriend's parents a nude photo of her after an argument.

Cummings final argument was, "online activities are safer than traditional sexual games because there is no immediate physical contact and thus are less likely to lead to pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases."

A family planning organization, no name mentioned, did a survey and found that 20 percent of American teenagers have participated in sexting.

As innocent as it may be for teenagers to send nude photos of themselves to their peers, it is not difficult to get those photos online. It wouldn't take a crafty teenager much to hook up with a buyer of teen nude photos. And, as quickly as teenagers change their minds about anything, including the person they are currently dating, sexting is probably already a major supplier of child pornography.

A parent I know has already implemented a solution: Her teenagers do not have texting on their cell phones.

Instead of labeling teenagers sex offenders for the rest of their lives - and ruining their lives - why not promote parental involvement and common sense intervention?