October 12 2008

15-Year-Old Girl Could Be Labeled A Sex Offender

Remember when I wrote aboutall sexual predators are over the age of 36?  It seems someone got an early start!

A 15-year-old girl that attends Licking Valley High School in Newark, Ohio is facing charges of possessing criminal tools and the illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material.  Her crime was that she used her camera phone to take nude photos of herself, and she then in turn sent them to some of her classmates.  The students he received the images are also facing possible criminal charges.

The unnamed girl is facing could be sentenced to everything from probation to several years in a juvenile detention center. It is also up to the judges discretion, but she could be forced to register as a sex offender.

This is shockingly similar to an incident I wrote about in April of 2004 about another 15-year-old girl doing something similar.  That girl was taking cam photos of herself doing sexual things and sending them to men she met in chat rooms.  She was labeled as a sex offender, and under the law, she was forced to inform people in her neighborhood of how she may be a danger.  I always wanted to know how that discussion went, “Hi, I’m a sexual danger to myself… please be careful”?

While I certainly do not feel any teenage girl should be doing these sort of activities, I definitely feel that the punishments are not befitting of the “crime”.  This is childhood stupidity, why possibly destroy their lives over what amounts to stupid indiscretion?  Registering them as sex offenders?  Putting the camera phone girl in juvenile detention center for years would certainly not be helpful to this girl’s future.  Why not get her counseling?  Community service?  Probation I have no problem with, but the other parts just seem entirely over the top to me.

My other question would be why valuable court time and law resources are being taken up with such a case?  Perhaps it is time for lawmakers to put some new caveats into the sexual predator laws about if it is a child doing it to themselves?  The above linked news story mentions that prosecutors are seeing more and more instances of this, which means even more time is being taken away from other matters to go after kids who do what kids do… they do something stupid.

This reminds me of all the shoplift teenagers I caught over the years in the comic book store.  We would call the police, but we never pressed charges, we just made sure the cops gave them a good, hard scaring, and the cops would thank us for not forcing them to file out reports and more.  It worked for both sides, and we were both happy.  What about teenagers who get stopped for drunk driving?  They get some education classes, sometimes taken to a morgue to see what could have happened, but rarely do you go to detention or get registered.

I take sexual offenders extremely seriously, don’t get me wrong, but I feel the punishment should fit the crime, and I think this time they are wildly out of proportion to one another. Put her on probation, and if she does it during again during that time, then throw the book at her, but a one time offense? It just makes no sense to me.

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