One judge took the right approach and he is to be commended for his wisdom and courage. Judge Thomas F O’Malley in Cleveland took what we felt was a very productive, useful approach in sentencing eight suburban teens (ages 14, 15, and 16) from Mayfield and Highland heights in the fall of 2008.
These teens were taking provocative nude photos of themselves and sending them through their cell phones to their boyfriends or girl friends. They knew they could get in trouble for it, but did not know they could be charged with a felony. The parents, in complete shock over the photos, didn’t know their kids could be charged with felonies until the prosecuting attorney educated them on the realities for violating obscenity laws.
Under a special sentencing plan agreed on by Judge O’Malley, the defense attorney’s and the prosecuting attorney’s, every teen was ordered to survey 25 other teens in their school to educate them and report back whether they knew having, viewing or sending explicit photos of a minor over a cell phone could result in a felony conviction and incarceration in juvenile jail. In addition, they were mandated get counseling and be assessed under the same guidelines for cases considered sexual offenses. If they comply with the sentencing, the charges will be dismissed.
The teens will come back into Judge O’Malley’s court after a given time to compile the results and present their results. The results may be used to educate other teens in their community and beyond.
A national survey release in December 2008 about sex, technology and teens showed that 20% of teens surveyed had electronically transmitted nude or provocative photos of themselves via internet post or cell phone. 40% had sent sexually evocative texts or instant messages.
If you think you see most of the horror stories on misuse of cell phones in the news and media today, you'd be mistaken. The simple fact is, 99% of these cases never hit the news. The reality is, misuse of cell phones has destroy people’s lives, or at a minimum, turn their lives completely upside down. The actions that cause this destruction are not exclusive to teens. Some adults are just as prone to poor judgment, only they don’t get to talk to a family court judge, they get a criminal court judge. Different rules entirely.
We are conducting research in all 50 states to obtain state laws on cell phone related issues. For many states, there are new cell phone laws being passed. All states are adapting cellular phone laws not only for driving issues, but for privacy issues too.
Sexlaws Research Team
2009-03-08 08:53:56 -0800
Sex & Tech Teen Voices
Sex & Tech Survey pdf DOWNLOAD