A 14-year-old boy and a 13-year-old girl, both from the Pittsburgh area, are facing adult charges of transmission of sexually explicit images after the girl's mother found a topless self-portrait on the girl's cellphone. The criminal charges against the young teens are being criticized by some observers as a misuse of Pennsylvania law, and could trigger a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union.
A former Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission engineer is facing a mandatory sentence for child pornography after being found guilty of "sexting" to teenage girls. His defense attorney claims that these are false charges for a man who is an upstanding member of society and is devoted to his family. He said that the defendant was simply playing a "cat and mouse" game and did not mean any harm.
Parents in Pittsburgh have likely heard that teenagers sometimes take risqué photographs of themselves on their cell phones and share the photos with their boyfriends or girlfriends. What the teens and their parents may not realize is that authorities in Pennsylvania are prosecuting this practice, known as "sexting," as a form of distribution of child pornography, no matter if the people involved are themselves minors.
Pennsylvania and Pittsburgh law enforcement officials recently confirmed that the number of reports of teenagers sending each other explicit pictures over the Internet or through text message are lower than commonly believed, and are dropping. That matches the national trend, according to a study recently released by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The report said that very few minors have sent pictures that would be considered child pornography.
Technology in the 21st Century has made it easier for people to communicate and share information. Unfortunately, 21st Century technology has also made it easier for people to get into trouble with the law. The story of two Western Pennsylvania high school students illustrates this principle.