Laws that are passed in a wave of moral panic always, but always, turn out to be bad laws. And so it is, to absolutely no ones' surprise, with the laws over pictures of people in the nuddy being sent over mobile telephones. Some seem to be recognising at least a part of it:
More than 1,000 under-18s have been investigated for sexting since 2012, with many ending up with a conviction under child pornography laws which can affect their education, work and travel opportunities in adulthood. The group’s report said: “The drive for crime recording integrity is needlessly drawing other children and young people into the criminal justice system, impacting on their long-term welfare and future career opportunities.” It called on the Home Office to re-write rules which set out how police record such incidents as crimes, as well as other “low-level” incidents such as fights between children who live in local authority care.
It is worse than this report states, of course it is. Not only are those under 18 who send such pictures possibly criminals, with life long records, those who receive them can be, and sometimes are, prosecuted for the possession of child pornography. A criminal record for such being something that we'd not really wish upon anyone.
To state how absurd the situation is, well, it's absurd. Take a 16 year old girl, entirely legally in a sexual relationship. She may offer her enbonpoint to her lover to be gnawed, kneaded, caressed and kissed, yet if that lover is over 18 and possesses a picture of said breasts in their natural state they are guilty of possession of child pornography. Yes, there are mitigating factors available but the standard penalty is 5 years jail for this.
A 16 year old sends her girlfriend a semi naked selfie and it's 5 years in the jug?
This could only have come about as the result of one of the more absurd moral panics.
What's really at the heart of this is:
The practice of sending nude or explicit photographs over the internet has become “normal” among teenagers who rarely think through the consequences, the agency added.
Delving into our vague memories of Karl Marx, the level of technology determines social relationships. And this is simply one of those times that a change in technology has led to a change in such relationships. Teenagers are, as anyone with a reasonable memory will recall, remarkably interested in sex. The ubiquity of cameras has changed how they express that interest.
Shrug. It hardly seems like a good reason to criminalise the behaviour of an entire generation. The social mores of what is done and how will be sorted out by the society that is doing it and really, no one needs to be jailed for it. Perhaps that process won't be entirely crisis or problem free, but jailing people over sexting isn't going to help matters in the slightest.