Nancy Willard, director of the Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use, has published an article on the Center’s website addressing the subject of Sexting and Youth: Achieving a Rational Approach. Among the issues addressed in the article is how children are now being prosecuted for distributing child pornography when they take and text a photo of themselves.
I wrote an article on this subject in September of 2009 entitled “Too many registered sex offenders make dangerous sex offenders difficult to track.” In that article, I discussed how laws are labeling so many people as sex offenders that it is now difficult for law enforcement to focus on those who are truly dangerous. For example, under current laws a teenage girl who sends a nude photo of herself to her boyfriend now becomes a convicted child pornographer, subject to the same sex offender registration and community notification as a dangerous offender like Phillip Garrido. While this was clearly not the intent in passing laws against child pornography, few legislators have the courage to attempt to modify the law out of fear that they will be labeled as soft on crime. As a result, the lives of impulsive children are ruined while true sex offenders get lost in the shuffle.
I am flattered that Ms. Willard chose to footnote my article in her new article on teen sexting, and I encourage all parents to read what she has written on the subject. Ms. Willard is an expert in this field. In addition to being the director of the Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use, she has also published two related books: Cyberbullying and Cyberthreats: Responding to the Challenge of Online Social Cruelty, and Cyber-Safe Kids, Cyber-Savvy Teens, Helping Young People Use the Internet Safely and Responsibly.