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By Jeremy Schiffres, Daily and Sunday Freeman, Kingston, N.Y.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The naked truth

A short item in The New York Times this morning mentioned that "sexting" - in which teenagers exchange sexually explicit pictures of themselves via cell phone - is a felony in some states, punishable by years in prison and designation as a sex offender.

Now I'm not condoning "sexting," but I find it ridiculous that the practice has been criminalized.

Teenage boys and teenage girls always have been interested in each other's bodies and always have done whatever they can to see a member of the opposite sex naked. But now, for the first time, the method they use to see each other in the buff can get them in serious trouble. Yikes!

In my teen years (1976-82), the only practical way to see a fellow teenager naked was to be in the same room with the person and be lucky enough to have that person shed some clothing. And as long as the participants were both under 18 or both over 18, and no force was exerted to compel the nudity, there generally was no threat of prosecution.

Today, however, simply because cell phones (and computers and digital cameras) have provided a new way to experience such viewing pleasures, the exact same consensual act is prosecutable. In other words, teens are being punished not for showing their private parts to each other, but for the technology they use to accomplish the task.

It's not the fault of teenagers that technological advancements have made an age-old rite of passage easier to accomplish. And they shouldn't have to fear a criminal record because of it.



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