Thursday, October 08, 2009

Parry's CNN appearance today on the latest sexting case

PHILLIPS: Another story we can't let go, several teens in Pennsylvania facing child porn charges because they allegedly texted nude pictures to each other, child porn charges. There is a similar case now in Wisconsin. They easily could be your kids. Don't believe me? Well, a recent survey found one in five teens post or text nude pictures of themselves. Lots to push forward, here.

Do the charges fit the crime? Heck, is this a crime at all? These are teens being teens but their hormones are now in bed with wireless gadgets. This is virgin territory for police, prosecutors, educators and lawmakers and parents. Seems like everyone could use a little sex education. Police in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, want state law makers to figure out how to apply the law here. The law as is will make these teens regret hitting send for a long time.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHIEF DAVID ARNOLD, CHAMBERSBURG, PA.: Unfortunately, as the law exists right now, a student could be charged with a felony and have a lot of repercussions for them in the future.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: And I asked the assistant school superintendent about the charges. This is what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS (On camera): Do you support child porn charges against these kids?

ERIC MICHAEL, CHAMBERSBURG AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT: Based on the evidence we have so far, not in this instance. We need to realize that one reckless act could potentially follow them in their future and affect them if a very negative way. That is certainly not our intent. We feel the education component is far more important to make sure the students understand the full implications of what they've done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: So, basically, the problem here is that justice doesn't move nearly as fast as technology. So let's talk to Parry Aftab, she's a lawyer who specializes in Internet and privacy issues. You know, Parry, what's the answer?

PARRY AFTAB, ATTORNEY: Well, we need to understand that there are two pieces of sexting. Number one, if the kids are underage, they can be charged with production, distribution or possession of child pornography and they are around the country. They are, they've become registered sex offenders. So, we are trying to change those laws.

The second piece is once that image moves, boys generally tend to look at it because it's a naked image, but girls move it to cyber bully each other. We're holding an event in Washington, on the Hill, on Tuesday to address this issue.

PHILLIPS: Is that the Ohio bill that you're going to be testifying about?

AFTAB: Well, Ohio, we actually helped put in place. This is where Build A Bear and Google and Microsoft and Disney and Facebook are all joining me at a major event Tuesday to try to help spread the word. In fact, Cynthia Logan, the mom of Jesse Logan, the girl who took her own life after her sexting image was made public will be there to open summit.

PHILLIPS: OK. So, from what I understand, right now there really is no law that fits the crime. The only thing that is out there are porn charges. And if you -- if you charge a child with porn charges, I mean, you're basically going to ruin their life, right?

AFTAB: And it's not just porn charges, Kyra. It is child porn, which is you're now going to have them have to register with all those people who molest young children. We need to recognize that because of the laws with statutory rape written the way they are, kids can have sex with each other. They just can't take a picture and share it with each other.

PHILLIPS: OK, so how would you advise the DA right now, in Pennsylvania, that's dealing with almost 30 kids in this high school who have been sending naked pictures around? And because law enforcement is talking about charging them with child porn.

AFTAB: Well, they don't really have an option. It's either too hot or too cold. They either ignore it entirely or charge them under the only law that exists. What I would recommend is some discretion. I'm happy to actually drive out there and talk to the people in the community. And maybe we can get the kids to be involved in the charity that I run, Wired Safety, teaching each other about not being stupid and taking these pictures. And if we can make it community service rather than crime and a tag that will follow you forever, as a registered sex offender, that's the way to go.

But we also are going to have to give them the laws that give them that discretion, because right now they don't have them.

PHILLIPS: You know, you say something very interesting about these kids doing something that's stupid. I mean at that age, 13, 14, 15, 16, I mean I would never even imagine sending a nude picture of myself, you know, to somebody in school. I mean I think -- what's wrong with our kids? I mean at such a young age, why are they even thinking about doing this?

AFTAB: I think they fall into different groups. We're seeing it as young as 10. Where these kids are trying to look older and they're taking pictures and sending them to senior boys. They are all armed with cell phones 24/7 and a photo capability. And when they're bored or somebody had too many beers, or at a slumber party and nothing else better to do, they will take an image and send it off. Once you click send, you've lost control.

So what we need to do is think about what we're putting into our kids' hands. Teach them that there are very serious ramifications here of taking these images, letting them know that even if they love him, when they break up that image may move, when he doesn't love you back.

And we need to also recognize that 10 percent of the teen boys we have polled have sent a naked picture to somebody and generally unsolicited. Like, hey guys, look at this. So we need to recognize that they think it's funny. They may be in love and think it's part of intimacy. They don't realize what's going to happen next.

PHILLIPS: You bring up a good point. It's not just changing the laws. But parents have got to step up and so do those school officials that -- and do some type of Internet safety training and educate our kids. I mean we're operating in a totally different world now.

Parry Aftab, always good to talk to you. Appreciate it.

AFTAB: Thanks, Kyra. And if they can follow us at Wired Moms, they'll get information about the summit on Tuesday on Twitter.

PHILLIPS: Wired Moms, that's on Twitter?

AFTAB: It's on Twitter.

PHILLIPS: Wired Moms, there you go, folks. All moms out there - and dads. Follow Parry Aftab. Thanks, Parry.

AFTAB: Thank you very much.

PHILLIPS: If your kids have cell phones, I know you've got something to say about this. Tweet me with your two cents at Kyra.cnn. I'll read some of your responses later in the newscast.

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