Monday, January 28, 2008

Children as child pornographers, redux

Awhile back, I discussed the prosecution of minors for producing or distributing child pornography featuring themselves. Criticizing the decision of a Florida appellate court to uphold such a conviction, I argued that the justifications for exempting child pornography from First Amendment protections are much weaker in such cases.

And now, also in Florida:

"A local teen could face felony child pornography charges after nude images and video of local juveniles were discovered on a MySpace page."

This news report doesn't say whether the "suspect" is a minor, or whether there was any indication of pressure or coercion involved. But when it's so easy for carousing teens to -- point, click! -- take racy photos and -- point, click! -- upload them to social networking sites, and other online hangouts -- without the involvement of adults, and without stopping to think of the consequences -- there are bound to be more such cases, possibly a lot more.

Indeed, in reading about this case I found a mention of a similar case last year in Rhode Island, also involving MySpace . I couldn't find any news reports on what happened since in the case, but it seems that altogether three teenage girls were arrested. (The blog that pointed me to this case went so far as to speculate that, "It probably happens everyday.")

Is locking teens up for their own protection, or that of other teens, really an appropriate response? Is it something we have the stomach for?

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