One quick click of a camera and a text message sent to a friend can leave someone with consequences ranging from jail time to sex offender registration. Most people are aware of what sexting is, but many do not realize the consequences associated with it.
A recent sexting case in southern Ohio at Madeira High School has caused the Arlingtonian staff to evaluate the consequences, in school and with the law, of sending nude photos of minors.
According to a Feb. 27 report from Cincinnatti CBS affiliate Local 12 News, “Up to 10 Madeira High School girls face discipline for sending nude pictures of themselves via cell phone.” Though charges were not pressed, the minors could have faced legal action due to the fact that in Ohio, sexting images of minors is considered a felony.
As of now, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, Ohio laws state that sexting images of minors can be considered a fourth degree felony and can result in anywhere from six-to-18 months in prison.
However, we believe that prison time for minors not only seems extreme, but it is unnecessary in the case of minors sexting of their own images. Other approaches are more reasonable and could be just as effective in punishing the culprits. Spending time in jail may scare minors into refraining from sending nude photos of themselves, but it certainly does not teach them the dangers and privacy issues behind it.
In some cases, minors can even face registration as a sex offender for excessive amounts of time. Such a label can affect someone for the rest of their lives in vital aspects such as jobs, school and future oportunities. Because of this, we believe that this label should not be a consequence of sexting if one is under the age of 18.
One alternative to jail time and sex offender registration is a fine. Charging minor offenders with fines continues to get the point across that sexting images of minors is not OK, but avoids time spent in jail that would create more problems than it would solve. Fines should range depending on the amount of people a nude photo was sent to, as well as the content of the image.
Another way sexting should be handled is through school administered punishment. Again, school punishment could range from detention and suspension to even expulsion depending on various factors. If students photos are being sent around school, victims of the sexting will obviously feel uncomfortable, which makes for an unsafe school environment. However, the amount and type of school punishment should be left up to administration.
Apart from focusing on the consequences of sexting, addressing the ways of preventing the situation altogether is also important. The easiest way to avoid a sexting scandal is to refrain from sending or accepting any nude photos. Without anyone taking the photos, there is no one to continue the sexting cycle.