Way too many people, mostly parents and women over 30, need to rethink punishing teens for sexting, and especially the implications it can have long term.
First of all, Sexting is really use of modern technology to do something that has been going on for years. To hear some people tell it, no one ever heard of sending partially or fully naked photos of themselves to girls or guys until cell phones came with cameras. Nothing could be further from the truth.
I can't help but believe that some of the moms and older women who are offended now were "victims" of this 20 to 30 years ago. People seem to forget the wonderful invention of the "instant" camera years ago. You could take a photo and within seconds it came out of your camera and you had your snapshot. No waiting for a roll of film to finish and rewind to be taken to a retailer for development. (!!)
There it was. The perfect means for girls to take partially or fully naked photos of themselves, whether straight down or in the mirror, just like they do now. Or let the boyfriend take it. Within a few seconds, they had a photo to give to a boyfriend. Maybe even multiple photos. No one would find out. And, of course, the boyfriend then had the choice of keeping the photo all for himself to enjoy, or sharing by showing it to other guys.
Before that, you took your chances. I knew of one guy who worked in a camera store (that would develop film for customers) who got a hold of some nude photos of a babe in the neighborhood she actually brought in to have developed.
Heck, I still joke privately with a longtime friend about him showing me topless pics of a babe he was seeing on the side back in the 80's. I also recall visiting a couple of dorm rooms in the 80's and guys reaching into the "secret desk drawer" to share some mighty fine photos of their college conquests. Face it, I can't have been the only guy to know and know of guys who used to do this and/or benefit from instant cameras in this same way.
The only difference with Sexting is that the technology makes it easier for guys to SEND the photos to their friends. However, based on the laws and regulations, which were written BEFORE cell phone cameras made this happen, guys and girls are now easily caught with evidence.
Girls are caught with "evidence" because of sending pics of their bodies to guys. Guys who share via cell phone are caught with "evidence" because of the receiving and sending. Now, this seems to be a prominent issue.
My point is that nude photos of teen "friends" are such a not a new thing, as many of the parents and others would have you believe. The only thing that has changed is that the modern means of distribution allows teens to be "caught" much more easily than in the past.
In that respect, it was much easier for guys years ago, even if they weren't able to easily share these photos with other guys. Personally, I took the selfish route, and that is why I still recommend that (selfish route) for guys.
I didn't take any photos of the girls I saw naked. While I had none to share with my friends, there was no way I could get caught with evidence of what I had seen. There were a few times I had guy friends over and had them bring their binoculars so they could see some girls along with me, but again, there was no evidence.
In my book (Total Creep - A Guy's Guide, available via www.TotalCreep.com) I wrote about how to do this. One of my favorite stories from when I was in high school was about a girl a year younger (she was a junior while I was a senior) who lived in the next building over from me. I knew her and she was really cute, but she had a boyfriend. In fact, I knew him too.
There were a few instances when I would see her stark naked in her bedroom using my binoculars. I'm pretty sure I saw more of her than her boyfriend ever did, at least in her apartment. But, so what, I wasn't able to share any photos with my friends. I also never got into trouble, and she never knew what I saw. (The funny part of the story is that when the guy realized I was a neighbor he asked if I knew her, and I said "I'm familiar with her". If he only knew!) I developed many of my spying techniques using binoculars from my parents' apartment windows, and would watch several high school and college babes. The difference is I never got caught, and never distributed any photos or "evidence" of what I saw.
Sexual things take place at parties involving high school students these days that didn't happen when I was growing up. Guys' pants come down in the dark, girls tops come up. But unless a parent or adult supervisor finds out, or a girl complains to an adult, these activities go on unreported and with no consequences.
In other words, it is so much easier for guys to enjoy seeing classmates and schoolmate girls partially or fully naked than it ever was when I was growing up. But there have always been opportunities, and that percentage of girls willing to show breasts or better to the guys.
For that matter, just yesterday I came across this story written by a female student at Purdue, in which she reveals she is ready to share naked pics of guy friends. Technically, she is inviting legal trouble, and her name and e-mail address are right there:
Don't get me wrong. I am not saying it was the same for me to see unsuspecting teen girls naked using binoculars as the girls who send naked photos of themselves voluntarily. However, girls who were violated in a sense by me invading their privacy had no idea of what happened, compared with girls who are willingly sending out nude photos, even if intended for confidence.
Teen boys are not sex offenders or pornographers and shouldn't be treated as such. If they didn't have access to those photos, they wouldn't do this. By now, teen girls know the consequences of these photos getting out.
That doesn't make it right, but it shouldn't mean they are subject to punishment or arrest. In my opinion, teen guys seeing teen babes naked should not be placed in the same category as an adult male having photos of a 16 year old. This is not sex. Many 15, 16, and 17 year olds are fully developed and have a woman's body. Looking is not the same as touching.
To the moms and women over 35 who have problems with Sexting, I understand the concerns. However, stopping cell phone distribution of photos doesn't stop the activities at parties, girls flashing a group of guys, spring break, wet t-shirt contests, and for that matter, digital cameras that hold photos until such time as they are easily deleted. I can tell you that more and more high school and college guys are aware of the risks of sexting, and already have other means to privately share photos of girlfriends and/or classmates with their friends.
Meanwhile, I'm going to continue spying with binoculars and using my techniques while in public to check out the babes down shirts, up skirts, down jeans, and any other glances I can see. Without any evidence. No harm, no foul.
As for Sexting, the punishment should be different than that for a sex offender or worse. Sending photos to others is not the same as a rape or sex crime. It's up to the girls not to send these photos, or for guys to find other ways to enjoy them without evidence. That will eliminate these Sexting issues once and for all!