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Felony charge for sexting too harsh

By Marc Butcavage, Video Editor

 

            In last week's issue, Julia Hahn presented an opinion piece titled "Sexting Deserves Harsher Penalties." While I believe everyone should be entitled to their own opinion, it is unfortunate that Ms. Hahn's is ill informed and naïve at best. Her stance seems puritanical, rooted in the idea that rather than proper education of young teens on the dangers and consequences of sexting, we should simply adjust the current law to allow for felony convictions. This is a dangerous and ineffective way of handling the way teens think and act.

            Already teens are being charged with child pornography, as is the case of Phillip Alpert, a Florida teen who must now be on the sex offender registry until the age of 43, and though he faces probation rather than jail time, this punishment is still beyond what any teen should face.

For the most part, his life is completely ruined. He will have trouble attending a university, finding a job, or even buying a house. A charge that is not even close to a felony in regards to severity of punishment, and still it is too much. What Ms. Hahn is suggesting is not only the above, but also the addition of hard time in prison or juvenile hall, the complete loss of the right to vote, and the label of "convicted felon" for life.

Yet, these kids are not armed bank robbers, crack peddlers, or rapists. They are misguided children simply misappropriating their newfound sexual frustration and misusing the technology that we have at hand.

            Much of the problem stems from our country's desire to make a taboo out of anything remotely sexual, which includes properly educating our children. Like drugs or alcohol, teens who are not educated on the risks of sexual activity, and how to properly avoid these risks if they choose to engage, are more likely to partake in dangerous and risky sexual behavior. By simply talking to adolescents in a frank and positive manner about sexual education, including sexting, then I believe we can seriously cut down on the number of offences. However, it is important to note that sexting is never going to stop, but we can at least aim to control it.

            To think that someone would suggest charging young teen with a felony, especially after the psychological damage caused by public backlash has taken its toll, is simply preposterous. Even the current punishments that have been carried out are too severe. What these kids need is not a court system telling them they are on par with child rapists and kiddie porn producers, but someone to educate and to listen. We can't seriously as a country continue to make everything we find uncomfortable a felony or jail-worthy offense. It's time the parents of America grew some balls and talked to their kids. Also, dropping the picture messaging plan might not be a bad idea either. 

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