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The Courts Government United States News

6 Pennsylvania Teens Face Child Porn Charges For Pics of Selves 1044

Posted by timothy
from the nudity-is-for-in-person-only dept.
mikesd81 writes "MSNBC reports six Pennsylvania high school students are facing child pornography charges after three teenage girls allegedly took nude or semi-nude photos of themselves and shared them with male classmates via their cell phones. Apparently, female students at Greensburg Salem High School in Greensburg, Pa., all 14 or 15 years old, face charges of manufacturing, disseminating or possessing child pornography while the boys, who are 16 and 17, face charges of possession. Police told the station that the photos were discovered in October, after school officials seized a cell phone from a male student who was using it in violation against school policy and the photos were discovered at that time. Police Capt. George Seranko was quoted as saying that the first photograph was 'a self portrait taken of a juvenile female taking pictures of her body, nude.' The school district issued a statement Tuesday saying that the investigation turned up 'no evidence of inappropriate activity on school grounds ... other than the violation of the electronic devices policy.'"
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6 Pennsylvania Teens Face Child Porn Charges For Pics of Selves

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  • by the_arrow (171557) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @11:41AM (#26530163) Homepage

    We need a world-wide ban on all phones with cameras!

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @11:54AM (#26530377)

      We need to ban vision. If you don't willingly poke out your own eyes, then you must be a child molester.

      • Re:Not good enough. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by JCSoRocks (1142053) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @12:18PM (#26530773)
        Can we just blind the lawmakers instead?
      • by QRDeNameland (873957) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @12:25PM (#26530859)
        Not nearly far enough. What we can now see with this epiphany is that all children are hiding their naked bodies under their clothes, and therefore can only be regarded as mobile child pornography factories. Obviously, only banning children entirely will stop this perverted scourge and allow us to finally achieve a healthy society.
        • by jythie (914043) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @12:51PM (#26531385)

          It is comments like this that make me sad that slashdot moderation only goes up to +5.

          • by cayenne8 (626475) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @12:59PM (#26531521) Homepage Journal
            I"m a little shocked too at the leap the level to trigger a crime has come to.

            So now...simple nudity == porn? In this case a nude person under 18 is now considered child porn?

            Ok..so, now, parents that take pics of their nude kids, not in sexual situations, are not manufacturers of child porn?

            Hell, what about people that are nudists? I can't imagine they have many pictures of themselves, friends or family that have clothes on. Will we throw the book at them too?

            • by jeffasselin (566598) <cormacolinde@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @02:38PM (#26534179) Journal

              Ok..so, now, parents that take pics of their nude kids, not in sexual situations, are not manufacturers of child porn?

              Yes, at least according to some people. You haven't heard of heard of such cases of parents being accused of child pornography because they had sent pictures of themselves with their naked children in the bathtub to be developed?

              The charges were dropped after some outcry, but the accusations were raised nevertheless.

              The child pornography FUD is just a new campaign to give more power to those who would exploit us. After the War on Drugs, the War on Terrorism, now comes the War on Child Pornography. When everyone is a criminal, there is no need to fabricate evidence to imprison you because they don't like what you're saying or doing.

        • by Fritz Benwalla (539483) <randomregs@gmail ... inus threevowels> on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @01:12PM (#26531769)
          You can't go after the children directly -- go after the enablers. I say we prosecute Baby Gap for selling encryption technology specifically designed to hide a child's nakedness from authorities.
        • by oldspewey (1303305) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @01:30PM (#26532301)

          If only there were some way to force all girls and women to wear some kind of head-to-toe covering that conceals any hint of shape or form. Even catching sight of a female face might induce men to think impure thoughts, so it's probably best if only the eyes are visible through some sort of slit in a veil.

          Enforcement of this dress code might be a problem though ... so perhaps there is some way to make it a religious requirement that women be completely covered this way ... maybe by proclaiming that it is the will of God.

          Naaaahhhh ... that would probably never work ...

      • by Technician (215283) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @12:37PM (#26531089)

        On a more serious note, when did mere nudity = porn? There are nude beaches, nudist colonies, clothing optional hotels, cruises, etc. I think someone may have crossed nudity with porn. Was there a sex act or adult involved?

        • by Forge (2456) <kevinforge.gmail@com> on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @12:51PM (#26531375) Homepage Journal
          Nudity is an objective measure (Is that a clitoris or acne at one end of a dimple?) while Porn is a subjective measure (Isn't double fisting really art?)

          What should be done is to simply extend what already exists in common law (Jamaican, not US) for statutory rape to pornography. Specifically consent is a valid defense if the victim is the same age or older than the accused. Not only that when the accused is older the age gap in cases where consent is admitted is used to mitigate the sentence.
          I.e. a 25 year old guy will spend years in prison for screwing his 15 year old "girlfriend". A 18 year old guy gets probation.

          Apply that principle to child porn and you won't waste time prosecuting kids for pictures of themselves or their classmates.
          • by hedwards (940851) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @01:04PM (#26531601)

            It's a tough problem, but I'm not really sure what purpose charging the girls, with manufacturing and distributing child porn really is. Yes it's bad to have those sorts of pictures made and distributed, but is it really productive to send children to juvie for taking photos of themselves?

            I'm not really sure that this is the sort of crime that the lawmakers writing the legislation had in mind when they passed it.

            • by mea37 (1201159) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @01:20PM (#26531979)

              "I'm not really sure that this is the sort of crime that the lawmakers writing the legislation had in mind when they passed it."

              Probably true. I suspect we're seeing some combination of two things.

              First, people may legitimately be struggling to interpret a complex and arguably vague law that addresses a lot of sensitive issues. The executive branch may not understand whether a given picture meets the law's definition of child pornography. Maybe they confidently believe, rightly or wrongly, that it does, and that it is their duty to pursue the case. Even if the legislature didn't intend this act to qualify, they may have written the law too broadly for their real intent.

              Second, there may be people rationalizing a fit between the laws on the books and the activities they want to prohibit - a practice given considerable backing in the Drew "hacking" case not long ago.

              Either way, that's what the judicial branch is for -- to interpret the law and apply it to the facts of the specific case as determined at trial. It's not ideal; the system will never be perfect. These kids may be dragged through the mud only to be acquitted in the end; and if that's how it goes, we would hope that as the law becomes better understood (or gets rewritten/replaced with something more clear), the charges raised should come into increased alignment with what the law says. The executive branch shouldn't knowingly misinterpret the law, just as the legislative shouldn't knowingly pass unconstitutional laws; but that doesn't mean that the executive should be required to perform the full function of the judicial before acting.

            • by gregbot9000 (1293772) <mckinleg@csusb.edu> on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @02:25PM (#26533779) Journal

              It's a tough problem,

              No it isn't. It is a very simple one, charge based on harm. child porn=abuse, abuse=harm, harm=jail.

              Yes it's bad to have those sorts of pictures made and distributed,

              Again, no it isn't. That's your opinion. It isn't the job of the state to enforce your moral opinion. These were pictures made by individuals of their own volition. Prosecuting them in anyway is a gross violation of their most basic liberties.

              I'm not really sure that this is the sort of crime that the lawmakers writing the legislation had in mind when they passed it

              This is exactly the kind of prosecution they hoped for. The goal of laws like this is to control human behavior that certain groups dislike, namely pornography and sexuality. it has very little to actually do with CP. They just come through the back door riding the CP train and started bending the law as they always wanted to. They don't feel that people can make decisions for themselves.

              You shouldn't look at the law as a means to enforce what is "right" and "wrong" from a moral stance, but as a means of protecting peoples rights. If you don't, more laws like this will come out of the woodwork.

              • by ultranova (717540) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @03:42PM (#26535659)

                No it isn't. It is a very simple one, charge based on harm. child porn=abuse, abuse=harm, harm=jail.

                Actually no, it isn't at all simple. For example, if some pedophile masturbates to pictures of me in a bath as a baby, he's clearly finding them sexually exciting, and thus pornographic, yet I was not harmed in the least by either them being taken or by his activities about them later. And as this case shows, since the law defines everything under 18 as "child pornography", and since teenagers under this are already sexually aware and often active, we get to the situation where laws that were presumably intended to protect kids from predators are used against people interacting with their peers, or even photographing themselves.

                As an end result, we have laws based on oversimplification of someone's wistful thoughts about reality where everyone under 18 is a "pure, innocent child" and things like "pornography" can be defined. Such a world has never existed and will never exist, yet we're enforcing laws based on it and harming the very people they were supposed to protect in the process.

                Of course I'm making a rather huge assumption here: that the lawmaker was merely incompetent, rather than outright malevolent. However, my more cynical side agrees with your assessment that this is all going according to their will...

                You shouldn't look at the law as a means to enforce what is "right" and "wrong" from a moral stance, but as a means of protecting peoples rights. If you don't, more laws like this will come out of the woodwork.

                That won't work. That standard is just ripe for abuse than the standard of right and wrong. Once upon a time, when women were struggling for a vote, one of the arguments against it was that it would "sully" them with politics, thus violating their "right" to be pure. This would simply lead to similar arguments used to justify abuse, all in the name of protecting the victim of course.

                You can't come up with any kind of principle that power-hungry people couldn't twist to serve as an excuse to lord it over other people. It's just not possible.

        • Re:Not good enough. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by apoc.famine (621563) <.apoc.famine. .at. .gmail.com.> on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @01:04PM (#26531609) Homepage Journal
          I've been shouting about this for some time. The best answer I have found is that the following chain happened:

          We don't like child molesters, someone do something about them!
          Laws are passed, people are happier.
          Politicians need a rallying cry, and who can resist "I'm doing this for the Safety of the Children"?
          Snowball begins...

          When you're super-conservative, nudity=thinking forbidden thoughts=sin. Logical solution? Remove sources of nudity to prevent sin. As an added bonus, Think of the Children will garner votes.

          It is ridiculously stupid. Ban nudity, and you ban most of the Renaissance painters. Those dirty, sinning pornographers.
          • Re:Not good enough. (Score:4, Interesting)

            by Technician (215283) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @01:16PM (#26531863)

            When you're super-conservative, nudity=thinking forbidden thoughts=sin. Logical solution? Remove sources of nudity to prevent sin. As an added bonus, Think of the Children will garner votes.

            I hope I don't get arrested for the back issues of National Geographic in my bookcase. Check issues from the 1950's and 1960's where photos of natives in far away places often included nude children playing.

            • by Technician (215283) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @01:22PM (#26532049)

              Just for grins, I flipped through a few old copies. An example of nude women and children making pottery is in the FEB 1964 issue page 174. Now you can get arrested for photos like this? Who knew we would become that crazy.

        • Re:Not good enough. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Glimmerdark (1229958) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @01:45PM (#26532633)
          in a different direction. the pictures were discovered by the school administration confiscating one of the male's cellphones. what then gave them the right to go poking around at the data on the phone? if the student was using a phone during class time, i can understand taking it away. but i don't see how that allows an invasion of privacy? what if we were talking about a laptop instead of a cellphone. does the school have the right to go through all that data as well? access to bank information (that some 16-17 year old's could have) going through old emails, etc. with today's cell phone capabilities, in many ways there isn't a difference between what you store on your laptop and your phone.
          • by gregbot9000 (1293772) <mckinleg@csusb.edu> on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @02:43PM (#26534277) Journal
            You see, in the name of protecting children we have created a situation where they have no rights, none. They can't consent, or create contracts, they must have permits to get work, they aren't allowed after dark. Segregation blacks had more liberties. Some 16 year old's do have bank info, and go to college, and work, and statistically the average age that people lose their virginity is 14. I don't know when the last time you were in an US highschool, but you have no rights, and they make damn sure to ingrain this into you. We wonder why our nation is going to pot? I look at the 4 year forced indoctrination the government runs to teach people not how to think critically, but that they rule you. Its no surprise that they now feel they own your naked body.
    • by cbiltcliffe (186293) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @11:59AM (#26530447) Homepage Journal

      I'm no expert on American law, but wouldn't this evidence be inadmissible in a court case, as there was no warrant, and therefore the search of the phone was illegal?

      I realize this is a "OMG!!THINKOFHTECHILDEEHJRJEIEAAARRRRGGGHHH!!!!111LOL!!" kind of thing, where legal formalities are frequently tossed aside because "they're only child molesters."
      But seriously....wouldn't this be a illegal search in the first place?

      • by haystor (102186) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @12:02PM (#26530515)

        I'm sure they're going with the idea that every student consents to a search when they attend school.

        Of course, they are required to be a school and failure to attend can result in charges in some states. Thus, they are required to consent to searches.

      • by Tacvek (948259) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @12:13PM (#26530685) Journal

        Unfortunately, most of the unlawful search and other illegal evidence laws apply primarily to the police, not to actions taken by others. Often times, if somebody else obtains the evidence, even illegally it can be used by the prosecution in the case. The party that obtained the evidence illegally could potentially be subject to prosecution as well, but that is not surprising.

        Now not all evidence works like this. For example phone recordings in some states may be inadmissible as evidence if the state's rules regarding it are not met, even when neither party is the police. But in most cases, as long as it was not the police (or prosecution) that obtained the evidence illegally it is admissible.

        Now in this case, this is moot. No warrant was necessary. Anybody (police or otherwise) may search property without any warrant if the owner of said property agrees to the search, and any evidence obtained is admissible. In general, although there are exceptions such as probable cause, law enforcement requires warrants to search a person's property against his/her will. Private individuals never need a warrant to do this, although usually searching of property by a private individual against the property owners will is a crime. However, school officials generally have the legal right to search any property on school grounds. Thus the evidence was lawful.

        IANAL, but all the above is my understanding of how it works.

      • by GooberToo (74388) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @12:31PM (#26530985)

        I'm no expert on American law, but wouldn't this evidence be inadmissible in a court case, as there was no warrant, and therefore the search of the phone was illegal?

        It's pretty easy to argue they had a reasonable expectation of privacy for the data held on their phone. Thankfully, since the justice system works so well here, bankruptcy is a fairly common occurrence in order to pay for establishing such grounds.

        Heck, thanks to the wonderful justice system here, simple tort cases can bankrupt families despite the fact the case has no reasonable basis. Heck, lottery winners of less than $4-million often spend a huge chunk, if not all of it, fending off law suites from claimants who have no credible claim to their winnings. That was a statistic from the company that runs 80% of the world's lottery systems.

        Sad fact is, the legal system in the US is completely fucked. Reasonable assumptions should never be made. And far too often, victory means financial devastation for a decade.

        The US has more prisoners than any other country in the world. The fastest growing government service is prisons and prison related services. In the US, both civil and criminal courts are big business.

        Never confuse, justice, punishment, common sense, or even simple reason and logic with the US legal system. Why else do you believe the US has more lawyers than any other country in the world - and still has a shortage?

        Maybe, one day, in my life time, The People will actually get their legal system back - and the genocide of lawyers will begin. I just had to throw that last part in. ;)

        Technically, according to US law, the person discovering the pictures on the phone can be charged with possession of child pornography (they legally took possession of the phone) as simple possession is all that is required. You don't even have to be aware you are in possession or have any intent of such material to have your life destroyed by this law.

        If the courts were worth anything at all, they would toss the DA into jail for 30 days while fining him for lost court time while he's sitting in jail, and remind him this is an issue for families, not courts. If more judges did the "Right Thing" many of these problems wouldn't be a problem at all.

      • by trmj (579410) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `nalrafcamt'> on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @12:41PM (#26531163) Journal

        It may have been years since I researched this topic, and it may have been in a Pennsylvania public school that the paper was written, but here's what I can recall from memory about the 4th Amendment to the US Constitution, specifically about illegal search and seizure and how it relates to public schools:

        Police entering the school to complete a search are just that: Police. As such, they are bound to the full effect of any Local, State, and Federal laws regarding search and seizure. That part is clear-cut and dry. Immediately after that, however, it gets fuzzy.

        For example, a student's locker is their personal space, right? Not always. It's government property, but there is a confidence held with the school that possessions stored within specifically designated areas will remain private. This has gone both ways in court, and largely depends on the circumstances.

        If the police want to avoid that whole argument, then they have the easiest of ways to have that space searched and items collected: school administrators. This is where a student will realize that, because they are under 18 (and under 21 in some states), they have very little say in the situation.

        Police need Probable Cause to search without a warrant. School administrators need only "Reasonable Belief", also called "Reason to Suspect" or one of many other phrases. As long as the student or the property are on school grounds, a school administrator has full and complete privilege to any of that students belongings, and the option to detain the student against their will until Police arrive.

        So, what constitutes Reasonable Belief? Quote simple, really: anything at all. Did the kid look funny? Did the administrator think they overheard a foul comment? Reason to believe.

        This may have been a long way of getting around to it, however the fact remains that this cell phone was taken in accordance with the law and is fully permissible as evidence. It doesn't matter why the administrators were looking through the kid's pictures, they can claim anything now.

        The real test of law here is whether child pornography prosecution can be used against minors who willingly took and distributed the pictures of themselves. Furthermore, can the boys be charged for receipt of something they did not have the option to reject? I don't know about you, but I don't have a choice to reject an SMS on my phone, it just accepts it no matter what.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @12:09PM (#26530623)
      This thread is useless without pictures!
    • by erroneus (253617) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @12:09PM (#26530635) Homepage

      You know, in all the years I have heard "Think of the children" as a battle cry expressing concern over the welfare of children, it just occurred to me that it can be read the wrong way by paedophiles... they TOO are thinking of the children. And as it turns out, they think of themselves as well.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @12:48PM (#26531307)

        Seriously, THINK OF THE CHILDREN!

        Think of the negative body image that results from thinking your body is some evil thing that must be hidden from the world.

        Think of how they're going to think they are "disgusting" because nobody should be allowed to see them.

        Think about how, oddly, sex between these minors would have been legal, but a private photo is supposedly not.

        There was no abuse. There was no child molester. There were just 6 teens, doing completely natural things. What they were doing was ok, it was healthy, and telling them it was bad is not healthy. Like I said, think of the children v.v

  • by HungryHobo (1314109) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @11:41AM (#26530165)

    truely a great day for the protection of children, personally I hope these scum get put on the sex offenders register for life so that concerned citizens can be warned of their presence in the neighbourhood and can act accordingly to protect their children from dangerous sex offenders!
    Hangings too good for them!

    • by cthulu_mt (1124113) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @11:47AM (#26530259)
      They're old enough to consent, but god forbid I videotape it for later.
    • by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @11:49AM (#26530291)

      Indeed. Thankfully because we caught them early on they now won't be able to become teachers or run for office. On every job application they ever fill out for the rest of their lives they'll have to put that they're a sexual offender.

      When they move they'll have to notify the county where they live. They'll have to let their neighbors know (So they can keep their kids away from these nasty people). In certain states they'll have to turn over their e-mail addresses and passwords.

      Hurray for the war on child porn, lets see if any of them have tried marijuana (as the last 2 and current president have admitted to doing) then we can sweep them under with the War On Drugs too.

      Never mind you're more likely to be molested by your Uncle or your Mom's new boyfriend than some stranger in a van.

    • by erroneus (253617) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @12:00PM (#26530467) Homepage

      I recognize that your comment was intended to be sarcastic.

      We attempt to paint this picture that is far too black-and-white for practical purposes when reality is too far removed from the ideology behind the laws we have in place.

      Fact is, teenagers will figure out sex and sexuality with or without adult guidance. Making their own experimentation criminal is simply a huge mistake. At the very least, an institutionalized grey area needs to be present. For example, if there is a "teen" in the age of the suspects, a lot more consideration needs to be applied. Do the words "raging hormones" mean nothing to legislators and prosecutors? Does the fact that for most people their first genuine sexual feelings begin prior to the age of 13?

      Criminalize nature all you like, but it will not change nature. Today's ultra-cautious political state is simply out of control. If today's standards for children applied when I was a kid, I'd have been put into jail forever for some of the crap I did. Everything from fireworks to B-B guns would have gotten me marked for life. And yes, I too had partaken in various forms of cruelty to animals as there was an abundance of insects, frogs and tortoises in my area where I grew up... not to mention birds and squirrels.

      We need a LOT less legislation of morality. Some child pornography is very obvious and needs control -- older adults with ten year olds is very obviously wrong. A 20 year old and a 16 year old is less obviously wrong. And kids taking pictures of themselves and sharing them with friends in an environment commercial exploiting sexuality as a means of getting attention for their selling ads is just wrong. You can't allow the environment to exist without expecting young people to be affected! Take Paris Hilton off the air, off of covers of magazines and newspapers! She is famous for ONE reason alone.

      Frankly, if I was the parent of any of these teens, I would start filing suit against EVERY major media provider that influences children with their unavoidable crap selling sexuality to teenagers. You can destroy every TV, magazine and newspaper in the home and teens are STILL going to be at risk of influence from it. And yes, I know it is futile and stupid. But attention to the real problems will never be drawn until obvious clashes between culture and law are reconciled.

      • by HungryHobo (1314109) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @12:13PM (#26530683)

        wait... what?
        You start out saying teens will be teens and will be interested in sex then move on to denouncing "every major media provider that influences children with their unavoidable crap selling sexuality to teenagers".
        So is sex evil now or not?
        do you want teens kept in a sex free bubble or in the real world?

        I'm just not exactly clear after reading that.

        • by erroneus (253617) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @12:20PM (#26530781) Homepage

          Actually, my last lines spell it all out.

          The REAL problem is the disconnect between nature/culture and our morality laws. They are moving in separate directions.

          We had similar problems with smoking at one point until laws were create to reign that in... now that we have laws preventing children from smoking and laws preventing its advertisement, we are at least consistent. But laws against sexual expression in advertisement will be a LOT harder to come by and a lot harder fought. Meanwhile these sappy laws "protecting the children" even from themselves are in dire need of revisitation and reconciliation with our present day standards and culture.

  • Most notably did the school have the right to search the student's phone/does a student have the expectation of privacy. There have been varying rulings over whether the police can search a cell phone or PDA of an individual placed under arrest. In the case of a school, they are not the police and do not have the authority of the police (despite some administrators thinking that they do).

    • by DustyShadow (691635) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @11:52AM (#26530339) Homepage
      I wonder if the school administrator who turned them in realized the damage that would be done to these kids. Their lives are ruined. They will fight for a long long time to get this off their record.
      • by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @12:00PM (#26530465)

        Their lives are ruined

        how long will it be before someone whose life is ruined like this takes matters into his/her own hands and 'snaps', seeking revenge?

        its not hard to understand the terrorist mind; when you are pushed and have NOTHING (perceived) left - you do what you feel 'needs' to be done to right a major wrong.

        suppose some kids are given criminal records and they find they can't find jobs (etc) later in life. do you REALLY think they will sit quietly and accept a ruined life?

        we are creating time bombs. count on it - its just a matter of time.

        I hope that those kids find justice before their lives truly are ruined. this is a FAIL on society that kids can have a life ruined for 'being kids'. ;(

      • by Dun Malg (230075) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @12:08PM (#26530619) Homepage

        I wonder if the school administrator who turned them in realized the damage that would be done to these kids. Their lives are ruined. They will fight for a long long time to get this off their record.

        Probably didn't even think of it. I work for a large school district, and the one thing I've noticed is that it's not just the cream that floats to the top. A depressingly large fraction of school admin people are complete idiots--- and not just the regular street-variety dodo, but the worst kind of idiot, the kind that has a degree and subsequently thinks they're brighter than everyone else. The kind of self-righteous twit that makes a stupid decision and then defends it to the death, even when faced with prima facie evidence that they totally screwed the pooch.

      • by Xebikr (591462) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @12:40PM (#26531149)
        Child porn laws should exist as a way to keep adults from hurting children. Not to give adults yet another way they can hurt kids. This whole thing is moronic in the extreme.
    • by Austerity Empowers (669817) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @12:02PM (#26530511)

      To the extent that the parents/schools can be held legally responsible for activities the students are involved in (or rather the blissful and perhaps willful ignorance therein), minors should have limited freedoms and expectations of privacy. They are usually legally treated with kid gloves because we don't expect minors to necessarily understand right/wrong, consequence and danger. The downside is that minors do have freedoms limited by parents and guardians (and I disagree and think schools should count as guardians, although the law seems to vary).

      I think the only thing noteworthy in this story is whether the kids will actually get convicted. This has "plea out" all over it, with a side of "I'll teach you a lesson you won't forget".

      The question of whether it's appropriate to charge teens with porn charges is probably irrelevant. Underage porn laws are written with the intent (whether you agree or not) of protecting minors from themselves. Thus you can't differentiate who took it, or you could have adults paying/pressuring teens to do this. You need to be able to charge the teens if only to let them plea and turn in any adult who may have been involved. The question of whether these laws are well conceived isn't being raised.

      This is a case where kids are being kids and should be treated like kids... but the law isn't great with exceptions. I question what "lesson" the prosecutor thinks can be taught by chasing this particular crime, and why not just let the parents handle it with a firm warning that this is illegal. If anything is wrong here, it's the attorney trying to play the role of a parent.

  • Wow. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Irish_Samurai (224931) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @11:43AM (#26530197)

    I mean, talk about punishing the victim here...

    Oh wait, I forgot Child Porn laws are no longer about the harm and damage done to the child during the creation of the material in question...

    Way to be society.

    • Re:Wow. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Irish_Samurai (224931) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @12:03PM (#26530527)

      How the fuck is this a troll?

      Charging a child with taking their own picture is punishing the victim!

      Jesus people.

      • Re:Wow. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Shadow of Eternity (795165) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @12:33PM (#26531029)

        Here's some more mental gymnastics for you: What happens if they are tried as adults?

        If they're charged as adults then they obviously have the maturity to understand the full consequences of their actions and so forth, but the original incident was illegal because they DONT have that level of maturity yet.

    • Re:Wow. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dgatwood (11270) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @12:51PM (#26531381) Journal

      Oh wait, I forgot Child Porn laws are no longer about the harm and damage done to the child during the creation of the material in question...

      Child porn laws were never about protecting the victim. If they were, possession would not be a crime. In fact, if child porn laws were designed to protect children, they would explicitly provide for the legality of possession unless the possessor is also the producer so that people would be more comfortable coming forward to the police and show this stuff to them to get the producers caught.

      As soon as you make possession of anything a crime, you've crossed the line from trying to protect the victims into the territory of trying to prevent a type of thought or behavior. It's all about cleansing the public of what certain groups consider "bad thoughts". <sarcasm>God help us all if teenagers think about sex. God help us doubly so if a 17-year-old (or worse, 18) thinks about sex with a 15-year-old. That's a grave danger to our society....</sarcasm>

      If child porn laws were designed to protect children, they would never apply to the exchange of material between two consenting people regardless of age because that is not the exploitation of children. It should only apply to the further proliferation of that material or to situations in which an adult more than... I don't know, eight years older than the non-adult... takes the photographs himself/herself. Here why: if a teenager is over at your house and flashes you, nothing happens, but if she decides to send you a photo of her flashing you via email or AIM, you can go to jail for receiving it even if you didn't ask for it. That's not justice---not by any stretch of the imagination. That's entrapment.

      No, child porn laws were never about protecting the children from molestation, etc. They were always about a puritanical desire to cleanse the world of thoughts that the most conservative elements of society consider bad. The number of people arrested for child porn possession has been steadily rising, but the child molestation rate has been steadily dropping. If there were any truth at all to the flawed concept that reducing child porn will reduce molestation, the molestation rate should have been increasing proportional to the possession. Because there is not only not a correlation, but also a reverse correlation, we can state fairly definitively that criminalizing possession (except in cases where the possessor also produced it) has had zero or negative impact on reducing child molestation.

      So why is it a law, then? Because a lot of people are attached to their naive little fantasy that adults are never attracted to anyone until they turn 18 and then they magically become attractive. This is, of course, absurd. The reasons 40-year-old guys don't sleep with 16-year-old girls are twofold. First, the 16-year-olds aren't interested. Second, the 40-year-old guys have enough self control to realize that if the 16-year-olds were interested, it would probably be taking advantage of them.

      That said, this is just as true for a 40-year-old and an 18-year-old. People don't magically become "adults" at 18. There are many, many people I know who I have considered children well into their late 20s and many, many people I know who I have considered adults at 14. People mature emotionally and mentally at radically different rates, and you can't come up with an non-absurd law that protects the naive from their own naïveté---ban anything sexual involving people under 30? Yeah, that's going to fly. So instead, we continue with the naive belief that these laws help people when in fact they don't do crap.

      About the only law that would make sense would be a law that somehow says that you can't get someone to pose nude if that person is not already sexually active, but that becomes a he-said, she-said problem, making it a nearly useless law. Better to just drop this law on the floor entirely. Laws against child porn possession don't serve the public interest, and this case is just further proof of that, along with the dozen other cases like it in the last year....

  • by damnfuct (861910) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @11:44AM (#26530217)
    A classic case of child pwnography.. someone had to say it.
  • by ternarybit (1363339) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @11:46AM (#26530241)
    on how to screw your enemies. Unlike porn on the Internet, cell phone pictures are *sent*, not *requested* or *received with consent.* Unless you specifically request otherwise from your carrier, you will automatically receive picture messages from whomever decides to send them to your cell phone. This combined with the details of this case make it disturbingly easy to frame someone...
  • by SoupGuru (723634) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @11:46AM (#26530245)

    Next time you get out of the shower, don't look in the mirror or you could get nabbed for being a peeping tom... wouldn't surprise me the way people have gotten so unhinged with this issue...

  • Hmmm. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CannonballHead (842625) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @11:46AM (#26530251)

    investigation turned up 'no evidence of inappropriate activity on school grounds

    That seems hard to believe, but ok.

  • Family album (Score:5, Interesting)

    by houghi (78078) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @11:50AM (#26530317)

    I hope they do not look in our family album. Several images of nude children can be seen. Not only that I was forced to look at other peoples family albums containing nude children as well.

    This all while I was underage myself. So who can I sue that has money enough to make me rich? Mmm. Kodak?

    Must be all my moms fault for putting that nipple in my mouth shortly after I was born. That turned me into a sex offender.

  • by Durrill (908003) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @11:50AM (#26530321)
    In all honesty, what harm was being done? Teens will do much more than acts of nudity with each other. This generation we have cell phones, digital cameras, internet, and web cams. So things have gone from adults "knowing" that this kind of stuff is going on to "proving" that it is true. With proof they decide to nail their asses to the wall? Thats ludicrous. Kids will be kids. If this kind of behaviour did not exist, we wouldn't be able to propogate the human race. Grow up and leave those kids alone. Those of you who actually had sex in highschool would understand my view point.
    • by corsec67 (627446) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @11:59AM (#26530443) Homepage Journal

      In all honesty, what harm was being done?

      Hahahaha, you think that laws are about preventing harm done to anybody?

      There are plenty of laws that cause harm, from the bans on marijuana, prostitution, speech, guns for self-defense, carrying over $10K in cash, etc.

      (I agree with you, but laws haven't been about preventing harm for a long time. Really a law should have to show that something is harmful to other people before it can be banned. Water being more toxic than marijuana by LD50 [wikipedia.org] is a good example for that.)

  • utter crap (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Loki_666 (824073) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @11:54AM (#26530371)

    Its now only a small step to being done for having photos of your own kids nude. Hell, ive event sent pics of my kids nude to my mum, so guessing i could also be done for distributing child porn.

    Amazing.

    And how is this different from girls flashing boys in the woods or stripping off at parties (yes, there were such parties when i was at school).

    Its called life and growing up. Boys are interested in girls, girls are interested in boys, and sometimes even same gender likes same.

    Mobile technologies just add an extra element to this and make it a bit easier to do for the kids. Also safer. Girl can take a pic in the privacy of her room and send it to boy who can whack one off in the privacy of his room. In my day there was always the risk of getting caught with the girl in the woods and getting an ear bashing from the local bobby or parents.

  • by Tom (822) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @11:54AM (#26530379) Homepage Journal

    Psychologically, I say this is the extreme conversatives who would really like to outlaw nudity, masturbation and while we're at it, even thinking about sex. Since they can't, they are looking for alternatives.

    Stripping away all the legality nonsense, what they've done is outlawing the naked human body, at least as long as it's young. That's a step in the "proper" (according to their belief) direction.

    There is no thought about "harm" because it is replaced by a strong belief that there is "irrepairable moral harm". And by "strong belief" I mean "belief that is unimpressed by proof".

  • by mtg169 (1257810) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @11:55AM (#26530381)
    Similar cases like this are popping up all over the country. I did some research awhile ago and found a case in Pennsylvania, Klump vs. Nazareth, and the courts actually found the school guilty of violating the students' privacy and constitutional rights by looking at the contents of their phone. This case basically stated that although the school can have a no cell phone use policy, it does not give the school or school officials the privilege to search the contents of the phone at will unless it is believed that the student is using the phone to violate another policy (IE: using the phone to cheat). The point is, in order for any school official to search cell phone contents, the student would have to be violating another policy other than the no cell phone use policy. Being that this case is also in PA, it could be used as case law and charges would most likely be thrown out. PDF here: http://www.paed.uscourts.gov/documents/opinions/06D0400P.pdf [uscourts.gov]
  • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @12:01PM (#26530495)
    This is definitely something that needs to be curtailed -- these are not adults making a rational decision about these pictures, these are teenagers who think it is exciting. Arresting them will not stop the behavior, it will just drive it underground. What is needed is better parenting and education.

    Of course, that is always the case...
  • Seriously...WTF?! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thesolo (131008) * <slap@fighttheriaa.org> on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @12:06PM (#26530591) Homepage
    From the article (emphasis mine):

    Saranko indicated that authorities decided to file the child pornography charges to send a strong message to other minors who might consider sending such photos to friends.

    "It's very dangerous," he said. "Once it's on a cell phone, that cell phone can be put on the Internet where everyone in the world can get access to that juvenile picture. You don't realize what you are doing until it's already done."

    Wait, what? First of all, no, the cell phone isn't put on the internet, the photos might be, but whatever, that's nit-picking. The real issue is that first statement. They're going to make these kids register as sex offenders to "send a strong message to other minors"?!

    These kids didn't do anything wrong. They're teens, they're full of hormones, and they're going to have sex with each other. And it's not the state or federal government's place to stop them. This has gotten far out of hand when 15 year olds willfully showing their bodies to 16 year olds can be prosecuted as child porn.

    • by snowgirl (978879) * on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @12:51PM (#26531377) Journal

      These kids didn't do anything wrong. They're teens, they're full of hormones, and they're going to have sex with each other. And it's not the state or federal government's place to stop them. This has gotten far out of hand when 15 year olds willfully showing their bodies to 16 year olds can be prosecuted as child porn.

      You OBVIOUSLY haven't heard about the success of abstinence-only education. Kids aren't having sex anymore, unless they're filthy nasty perverts!

    • by JimBobJoe (2758) <swiftheart AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @01:19PM (#26531941)

      Saranko indicated that authorities decided to file

      I just confirmed that the Westmoreland County District Attorney's office will be handling this case.

      I'd ask any interested slashdotters to call the Westmoreland District Attorney's office and tell them that the prosecution of these individuals:

      a.) is not in the interest of the individuals involved
      b.) is not upholding the intent of the statutes as written
      c.) is completely stupid, without merit and lacking in common sense
      c.) will be an embarrassment to the district attorney when he runs for re-election in 2010, should the voters of Westmoreland County find out that that valuable public resources will be used prosecuting teens for something which is hardly threatening the public.

      John Peck, District Attorney [westmoreland.pa.us]
      Phone: 724.830.3949
      da@co.westmoreland.pa.us

  • Also in Utah (Score:5, Informative)

    by ink (4325) * on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @12:12PM (#26530677) Homepage

    Charges coming in Davis County over nude photos [deseretnews.com]

    "It's out there and it's happening," Dunn said. "It's felonies, potentially federal felonies, and kids are clueless. They think that because the person is across the room and you're sending it across the room that it isn't a big deal. It's not the case."

    These kids could end up on the sex-offender registry, which would further deflate its usefulness and also deny a whole host of opportunities from these kids. What they did amounts to "show me yours, I'll show you mine" in my opinion -- but our culture is so wrapped up in sex offender mania that we're conflating rapists with innocent behavior.

    When we bought our house close to the University of Utah, we looked on the state's sex offender registry and were alarmed by all the incidents around. After drilling down to specific cases, however, it turns out that most of them were of the drunken-college-student variety. Now, when I hear that someone is a "sex offender", I'm not certain if they are a violent rapist, or if they took a dare to run down the block naked.

  • by Baldur_of_Asgard (854321) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @12:16PM (#26530747)

    The United States has been heading this way for a long while now, at least since Anita Bryant started her "Save Our Children" campaign, when she was under the impression that homosexuals could only increase their number by "recruiting" innocent children. Then John Walsh turned his personal tragedy into a national, and now a global tragedy with his movement that deceived the nation into believing that the thousands of children who run away from abusive homes each year were in fact millions of children who were being raped and murdered by strangers each year. (The quasi-governmental organization Walsh founded, the National Center for Misusing and Exploiting Children, is the king of dubious statistics - at one point they were telling Americans that over a million kids went missing annually. More recently they have been claiming that the non-existent child porn industry is larger than the legal pornography industry and Hollywood, combined.) What started out as an anti-homosexual movement has turned into an anti-child and anti-man movement, and in fact an anti-everything-good-about-the-world movement.

    (As a curious aside: Anita Bryant made a name for herself as a singer, and one of her hits was a tune from the 1950's musical "The Music Man", which was set in the early 1900s. "The Music Man" was about a charlatan who deceived parents into believing their children were in danger so that he could sell them the cure. Sound familiar?)

    So now we have reached the point where we are putting children who are "doing what comes naturally" in jail, or blacklisting them for life, in the name of "protecting them". Protecting them from what, exactly, no one has been able to satisfactorily explain, but protect them we will, by God, if we have to kill every last one of them!

    I feel for both the boys and girls who have been caught up in this situation, in which the only real crimes were those committed by the principal who violated their right to be safe from unreasonable search and seizure and those committed by the police and prosecutors who pursued charges.

    When combined with such things as The Drug War, it is getting harder and harder every day to do anything but laugh at the notion that the United States is home to the free or the brave.

    "And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
    O'er the land of the fear and the home of the slave!"

    Play ball!

  • by GbrDead (702506) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @12:43PM (#26531195) Homepage
    The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy reported last month that a survey of 1,280 teens and young adults found that 20 percent of the teens said they had sent or posted nude or semi nude photos or videos of themselves. That number was slightly higher for teenage girls - 22 percent - vs. boys - 18 percent.

    So Mr. Seranko wants to put 20% of all teenagers in jail? Yay for him and the twisted "justice" system.
  • by TurinPT (1226568) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @01:15PM (#26531825)
    The State must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people. As long as the government is perceived as working for the benefit of the children, the people will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation. ~Adolf Hitler.
  • by ChilyWily (162187) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @02:06PM (#26533261) Homepage

    My experience with High Schoolers has been that:

    1. Teens today are quite easily manipulated into many things that earlier cohorts may have resisted. Perhaps a changing of the times, where a media-driven culture sends out messages of 'everything is cool, the more 'kinky' the better...'

    2. Don't understand the ramifications of a compromising photograph.
    When 'everything goes', then who cares about a photo taken without a thought of its unintended usage. Not to mention, how easy it is for someone to pass the photo around. In one of my classes, I invited an HR person who explained how easy it was to take a picture and massively publish it... and pop up just at the wrong time for when a job offer may be at hand.

    3. I deal with law enforcement at times and they say that the #1 way to entrap kids, especially girls, is to have them either do something (e.g., nude webcam, pics etc.) for which they know they will be in trouble with their parents. Once a predator has established this sort of blackmail, the poor kid will end up forced into far worse things.

    I don't like this porn law being used this way because it detracts from the real issue(s) at hand. Yet, I can see that law may not fit the bill entirely in such cases. I would instead favor a system which educates kids/teens better and a social system that encourages kids towards greater self-esteem and understanding of such things by informing them of the bad and very real consequences for teens who made reckless choices.

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