About three decades ago, the writer/director Woody Allen was caught taking nude pictures of his now-wife. At the time she was just barely 18, but the fact was that she was a legal adult and not a minor. If she consented to him taking nude photos of her, it was her business and no one else’s. There was no internet and so the pics never made it to a larger audience.
Times have changed. Nude pictures are still being taken, of course, but nowadays they are falling into the wrong hands on a regular basis–many a starlet has had her computer hacked and videos or photos of her en flagrante posted across the internet. With that comes notoriety and some unwelcome fame, but it also has an effect on our kids. Suddenly, behaviors that parents would never have considered have become commonplace and the norm. Sending pics of your genitals has become a popular pastime among high-schoolers. If one of those is intercepted, do you know the penalty your child will face?
You and I might recognize it as immature and thoughtless behavior–something all too common for teens whose brains have not yet mastered impulse control. And we might even chalk it up to teen antics. But if your child engages in sexting–and is caught–he could end up with a felony record and be required to register as a sex-offender. His name will stay on the sex-offender registry for 15 years.
Steep price to pay
That’s a steep price to pay for teenage hi-jinks. But the law doesn’t see it as hi-jinks. The state considers it child pornography. Being prosecuted under Georgia’s Sexual Exploitation of Children statute is no laughing matter–and it is not a joke. Fines can run as high as $25,000 and prison sentences can be as long as 20 years.
The time is now
Talk to your kids. Help them understand what the law entails. Be blunt: This is not the same thing as being charged with another juvenile crime like violating curfew–where community service is the likely outcome. This is something that has the power to affect them every day for the rest of their lives–from college admissions to job applications and being able to rent an apartment. Talk to your kids. The time is now.