BATAVIA, IL — Two middle-school students are facing felony child-pornography charges after they were discovered ‘sexting.’
“Sexting” is defined the act of sending sexually explicit messages and/or photographs, primarily between mobile phones. Adults can share images of other adults without repercussion. However, possession of any explicit image of a minor is considered a crime — even if the images were shared voluntarily among other minors.
A ring of “sexting” was discovered at Rotolo Middle School involving at least 2 dozen teens between the ages 11 to 14 years old. For roughly 4 to 6 weeks, the teens were texting each other nude selfies or sending the photos via various phone applications, like SnapChat. The images were not alleged to have been taken at school.
“(The photos) were explicit and obviously very improper for that age group,” Detective Kevin Bretz said, a spokesman for the Batavia Police Department.
As one can imagine, middle-school children have difficulty being discreet. The images were being passed around to among other curious students. Ultimately the issue was made known to parents, and finally the government.
For sharing the images, the Batavia Police Department targeted two male 8th grade students to face the maximum charges possible — felony possession of child pornography.
The lapse in judgement could possibly haunt them for the rest of their lives, as the 14-year-olds will now have to defend themselves in juvenile court on felony charges. Had everyone involved been 18 years old — just a few years away — they could have legally distributed similarly explicit images unabated.
Is it righteous to punish children harsher than adults? Is there a better way to address this issue without the crushing force of government?