16-Year-Old Facing Child Porn Charges After Tweeting Nude Snaps Of Herself

456584747Teenagers are stupid. As someone who was once a teenager I realize this. We were all as dumb as wet mittens. I think about this a lot, how I would have acted had social media been around back in the day when I was emulating Siouxsie Sioux and writing bad poetry in my Lisa Frank covered in anarchy symbols notebook, and I doubt I would have ever been this dumb. A teenage girl in Virginia is facing charges of child pornography after tweeting nude photos.. of herself.

From Wavy.com:

According to Stephanie Williams-Ortery with the James City County Police Department, officers received an anonymous tip about nude pictures posted on Twitter by the 16-year-old girl. It is unclear how many pictures were involved, but police say they were posted either on or around Jan. 30.

Williams-Ortery said photos were also sent to some boys.

A school resource officer was notified, and spoke with the teen and her mother.

“It’s not just friends that see what they post but also strangers and everyone else out there,” said Williams-Ortery. “You have no idea who’s out there watching. You never know who’s going to see what you post.”

The teen’s phone was confiscated for evidence, and she was charged with one count of distribution of child pornography. Williams-Ortery said other teens should be aware that they stand to get in trouble for pictures of this nature too, even if they aren’t the one’s who took the photo.

 

Child, what were you thinking? I feel so bad for this kid and for her parents. This was just a really bad idea that could have been avoided if her parents would have reminded her that this sort of thing can get her in a whole mess of trouble. But for all we know, the parents lectured their kid on this daily and she went ahead and did it anyway.

I’m never letting my younger kids have cell phones and social media. I don’t care. I’m sure this kid in question is a good kid and just did it to get attention and all, I can remember being all insecure and wanting boys to think I’m pretty, and as far as I’m concerned it’s too big of a risk.

I grew up without a cell phone and social media and my world did not end. No one forgot me after school. No one cared that I didn’t update Twitter with which teacher I thought sucked or what I had for lunch.

My eldest has a cell phone and many times I feel like taking it away from him. I suppose it is nice that he can update me if choir practice is running late. But he doesn’t NEED it. I think this is where all you moms out there reassure me that you lecture your kids on what to do if someone sends them a nude pic or how not to update their SM with pics of themselves naked. I talk to my own son about this all the time, and I check his phone as well, but it’s all too easy for stuff like this to happen. According to the report, the teen may face jail time for the nude photographs, but it’s more likely she and her parents will have to complete a court-ordered ‘Sexting Education’ program. I hope this makes her learn her lesson.

 

(Image: getty images)

 

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  • Kheldarson

    I’m sorry- I mean I get it and all- but this is so idiotic. A teen is held as an adult AND a child in this instance. That’s so stupid, it’s not funny.

    That said, I’m going to try to avoid giving my kids cellphones as long as possible for this reason as well!

    • Martin

      I understand your concern but as the parent of two sons (18 & 23), it’s ok to give cell phones to your children. Cell phones are a necessity. Wait until your kid is in school and there is a bomb threat or worse.
      Just talk to your kids about the responsibility of having such a device. And share with them how their peers are not only getting into trouble but are doing things (pics to a boyfriend) that they can NEVER take back.
      You have to balance yourself between protecting them and instilling good morals. Also, only you know their level of maturity.

    • Kheldarson

      Cell phones are not a necessity. My brother and I didn’t get cell phones until I was in college and he was in 11th grade. And I had gone to a special school in the mornings so had to catch rides, and he was i n marching band. This was also post-9/11. We would use the school phone if needed. My youngest brothers (still now in high school) didn’t get cell phones until recently, and only the elder did because the brother directly after me gave middle bro his. Youngest bro still doesn’t have one.

      And I may trust my children’s maturity, but what about their peers? What about the boys who will forward these pics to them? Or girls? Should my child be punished for someone else’s immaturity for the rest of their life?

      Granted, once kids are driving by themselves, that’s when I view it a bit more necessary (not a potential bomb threat). But driving doesn’t have to be a necessity either.

    • Martin

      I respect your views, perhaps it’s just the environment I live in. I believe that the youngest my son received his cell phone (or at least one of them was 12). And thank goodness they’ve never had a problem though the phones have been used to keep tags on them directly.
      Also, there are models out there for kids that are strictly for calling or receiving from 4 or 5 numbers only plus dialing 911. Great for keeping in touch with Grandparents if you set it up as so.
      As for peers, we made sure to educate them on the trappings of peer pressure. But ultimately, again I still believe that if you speak freely with them about these concerns – children can surprise you.
      Absentee or ignorant parenting is really the problem, none of which apply to you. Your awareness of the perils is valuable toward protecting them.

    • Allen

      Phones aren’t a “necessity” in that it’s fairly rare to find yourself in a life or death situation where having a phone saves your life. But cell phones can be a wonderful tool to have. There are a lot of things in our society that many people survived without for years, but that have become the norm because of their benefits. That’s the good thing about technology–it improves our lives.

      It’s not just driving that makes them valuable, either. I’m an adult who doesn’t drive, and the thought of being stranded somewhere with no way of contacting someone terrifies me. A lot of public places don’t have pay phones anymore. When I was in my teens, I had some really scary experiences where I ended up stranded somewhere because my parents weren’t around to pick me up, and if we’d had cell phones, it probably wouldn’t have been an issue.

      Sure, I survived without a cell phone, but I feel much safer having one. I would get a phone for a child as soon as they started going out or attending activities on their own.

    • Rachel Sea

      Having a cell phone for the car is important in the event they get stranded or in an accident. People don’t pull over to help each other as much as they used to, thanks to the assumption that everyone has cell phones. It can be a basic burner phone without minutes, and still dial 911.

      I don’t think hardly anyone actually needs a cell phone. I’m 32 and I get along without one just fine.

    • Martin

      I had a flip phone for the longest time. After switching to a smartphone, I can say when used responsibly it is a great organizer. I use it for appointments, research, and connecting with others. More than once I have offered my phone to someone who was in a pinch. Gone are the days of phone booths! All again for personal use. I will however not be joining the Facebook crowd. I’d better stop now — I’m starting to sound older than I actually am, lol.
      Btw, I am new to Disqus and just recently realized I am on site called mommyish.com, sorry for jumping in here like this.

    • Rachel Sea

      Smart phones are clearly useful tools, but that doesn’t make them necessary for most people. Calendars and research tools and communication devices exist in so many other forms that unless a person wishes to do away with both a home phone and computer, it’s quite easy to live without. While streamlining assorted devices into one is handy, it is much more catastrophic when it gets lost or broken.

      And Mommyish isn’t exclusive, lots of people here are neither parents, nor female.

  • keelhaulrose

    Stuff like this makes me happy cell phones didn’t have cameras when I was a kid. I was an idiot. I would have done something idiotic, and archived it.
    I’ve got two girls, and this sort of thing is scary. I want them to have cell phones when they’re older so I can keep in touch with them, but we’re going to have to have an extremely serious talk about responsibility before that happens.

  • jane

    The kid did something stupid, no doubt, but the charges are 100X dumber than what she did. First of all, I take umbrage with the idea that anyone naked is naturally pornographic – were these pictures actually sexually explicit? Secondly, she’s a child who made a mistake, not a person who is exploiting children, which is who child porn laws are supposed to protect.

    And of course you’re going to let your kids have cell phones and social media. It’s a cost of the modern age. Saying otherwise is like your great grandma saying “I’m never going to let my kids drive in one of these new fangled car things! People didn’t get hurt all the time riding on horses!” True, there are more risks in riding in the car, but society adapts and we learn how to keep ourselves and our kids safe the best we can.

    And, for the record, I love that I’m not the only one with an evolution from Siouxsie Sioux wannabe to snarky mommy blogger :)

    • Ellie

      Agree 100%!
      … and LOVE the Siouxsie reference; that’s me, except my evolution only made it as far as snarky mom…

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      In right there with ya

    • chickadee

      Her reasons for taking and distributing the photos aren’t applicable when it comes to internet photos of naked children under 18. The point isn’t her intent….it’s what others can do with those photos. Anyone can take them and sell them as porn. And the odds are pretty good that if a 16-year-old sends naked pictures to guys, they are sexual in nature. Again, though, despite the intent, the law has to see them as child pornography.

    • jane

      Except I would argue that it does matter – a lot. Who decides what counts as “pornographic?” Being naked in and of itself isn’t sexually explicit; how many naked/half naked photos of toddlers do you see on your facebook feed that aren’t remotely sexual? Sure, of course, someone could find them sexual, but only in the same way that someone with a foot fetish could find the zappos website sexual. While I agree that she probably meant them to be sexual, unless the picture shows her in some compromising position or actually having sex, I don’t think that it should count as “pornography.” Otherwise we start classifying all nudity as sexual, and I think that does a HUGE disservice to us as a society. It’s basically saying that the most natural state you can be in is inherently sexy, and therefore inherently shameful and private. I don’t want that message sent to young children.

    • chickadee

      Right, but when it comes to the protection of minors, the law takes a strict stance regarding nude pictures. Cultural understandings of pornography have blurrier edges for adults, and obviously the law distinguishes between child pornography and a parent’s naked baby pictures, but in this case we are talking about internet distribution of naked pictures of a minor.

      Parents should definitely teach their children that nudity is not inherently sexual, but they should also teach them the legal ramifications of taking and sending naked partly naked selfless. Illegal doesn’t necessarily mean immoral, since individual morality varies, but what she did falls under the legal category of the distribution of child pornography, whether anyone considers that to be logical or not.

    • Kheldarson

      That’s not what I question as the logic point here: I question how a teen can be an adult perpetrator and a child victim at the same time. That’s what’s completely illogical about all of this.

    • chickadee

      True, and I should think that a situation like this should raise questions about how a minor in a situation like this should be charged. Because the goal should be preventing self-victimization. I mean, technically she is guilty of providing child pornography….and for the record, I wasn’t addressing your post since you weren’t questioning whether the pictures should be considered pornography.

    • Kheldarson

      Personally I think it’s all tied together. We don’t have a set definition of pornography (the last official statement was “I’ll know it when I see it” basically) and our legal system wants to hard line compartmentalize because “think of the children”. Yet the children are the ones getting hurt here in a drastic way :/

    • chickadee

      But we do have a pretty clear definition of child pornography, and unfortunately this seems to fit the legal definition of it.

    • Kheldarson

      Sure, if she’s charged and treated as a child. If she’s charged as an adult, then her subject (herself) must be an adult as well. That’s why it’s not clear cut.

    • chickadee

      The article said she waa charged as a juvenile. It’s a really informative article.

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      I’m also totally against kids having cars. Haha! They can have horsies

    • pixie

      I would rather have a pony than a car. Although, the pony I ride right now (who is my favourite horse in the entire world regardless) is kind of a dick sometimes. It’s similar to having a car that won’t stop or decides to stall out whenever it feels like it. But on the upside, way more eco-friendly!

    • SarahJesness

      I’m terrified of driving; if my parents gave me a horse in lieu of a car and told me to ride it everywhere I’d be all like “Hell yeah!”. And I’d give it an awesome name and everything!

    • Heather C

      I would totally ride a horse. All. The. Time. Instead of drive a car. Can we do that?

    • Katherine Handcock

      I think you make a good point about naked =/= pornographic, but the problem is once you allow ANY “legal” use of a naked photograph of someone underage, you’ve opened a can of worms. Think about how many cyberbullying cases involve a girl who took a picture and sent it to her boyfriend, who circulated it online once they broke up…and there’s at least one case I know of where a man in his early 20s conned/threatened a 14-year-old girl into sending him a naked photo, which he sold. If we allow the defense of “she/he took it him/herself” things can get dicey quickly.

      To me, this doesn’t require an official charge, more the “scare you straight” style conversation at the police station and strong recommendation to take whatever course etc. is available.

  • Holly

    My 10 year-old got a cell phone from his grandma for his birthday. It was surreal having to talk to him about the fact that what he texts can never be undone so think twice about what he sends.
    And hallelujah there was no social media when I was a teenager. The stills that we took were bad enough. We at least had to wait for the film to be developed and then physically show them to people.

  • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

    I for one am glad they didn’t have cell phones because of all the times I told my parents I was some place I wasn’t. Today, you could track it by her phone, by social media, or you can demand that she take a picture of herself right now with (whoever she says she’s with’s Mom) holding like an apple or something. That way I know she’s really where she says she is. Teenager-hood is not going to be nearly as fun as it was for me.

  • Zettai

    I was pretty moronic as a teenager myself, and when it came to wanting attention from a guy when I was that age… well, it reminds me of that article your wrote, Eve, about dating someone older because boys your age don’t understand that you’re screaming love me, tell me I’m pretty, tell me I’m worth something. (Paraphrased, I don’t remember the exact language.)

    Anyway, I could have done something just as dumb if I had a cellphone with a camera in those days. I feel bad for this girl. There is so much beyond her taking inappropriate pictures, it’s about WHY she wanted to take them. WHY was she looking for that kind of attention? Did she feel like she was only worth as much as her body? I hope her parents direct her to someone she can talk to, like a counselor, to help this girl get back on the right track.

    • Sadim

      agreed

  • chickadee

    Those sorts of distinctions aren’t applicable when it comes to internet photos of naked children under 18. The point isn’t her intent….it’s what others can do with those photos. Anyone can take them and sell them as porn. And the odds are pretty good that if a 16-year-old sends naked pictures to guys, they are sexual in nature. Again, though, despite the intent, the law has to see them as child pornography.

  • brebay

    Maybe if legislatures weren’t so busy writing pop-tart gun protections into law, they’d have time to draft a statute that pulled dumb teens sexting each other out of the same code that makes you a registered sex offender for life.

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      Why do you guys keep bringing up this damn delicious pop tart gun and making me hungry?!

    • brebay

      You want Rasp-Beretta with sprinkles or Hot Fudge Sundae-Night-Special?

    • Heather C

      You are my favorite person today. You’re hedging for that title with the writer’s “Wet Mittens” to describe teenage intelligence.

  • pixie

    This is one of the reasons why I try really impress upon my younger friends, friends’ younger siblings who I’m close with, and my 11 year old cousin that there are things you should really not put on social media/the internet. Hell, there’s even people my own age where I think “what the hell were you thinking?” with what they post online. I’m not talking about pearl clutching over pictures of them in pjs not wearing bras or posing in their bikinis, I’m talking about the extreme cases like this, or things over glorifying drug and alcohol consumption.
    This girl probably shouldn’t have been charged, but maybe a written warning and have to attend a social media safety and information class.

    For me, personally, I’m a big advocate (obviously) of thinking before posting anything on social media/the internet. While I completely understand that work life and social life are separate, and do agree that perhaps there should be more recognition by companies that work and social life are separate, businesses can and a good number do check the social media accounts of potential hires (and having strict privacy settings aren’t too difficult for companies to get around). The sister of an acquaintance was applying for a job for the government and it was no secret that they were going to look at her social media. I think more people, and tweens/teens especially, should be made aware that posting those pictures of you ripping bong hits frequently could impact your chance of getting your dream job later on. I was a teenager when major social media was in its infancy and just out of, but I was also the type of teen where, though I wanted to be super creepy goth girl and took “artsy” photos of myself and made them black and white looking all sombre and whatnot, I wasn’t the type of kid who would take half or full naked pictures of myself anyways, let alone post them online. Plus my parents were evil and wouldn’t let me have a webcam for msn-ing my friends because they heard about explicit things teens did with webcams.

    • chickadee

      One of the options that the article mentioned was that the girl might just have to attend a sexting educational seminar thingy (I haven’t looked at the article recently, and I’m feeling lazy). That really seems like an appropriate thing to do, although I would also recommend some sort of internet monitoring, if that’s possible.

    • pixie

      I was too lazy to read the article itself, but yes, I agree having to attend that sort of seminar would be appropriate. And some form of internet monitoring (maybe not for very long, but at least until it’s clear she’s understood the point of the seminar or whatever).

    • brebay

      I really don’t know why we’re still teaching sewing in middle schools instead of classes about online security, personal money management, intro to law, or anything else more modern. We live in a pretty progressive district, and my sons sewed pillows in 6th grade. They enjoyed it alright, but they have no idea what a credit score is or the criminal law penalties of their own country. I guess a lot of home ec. teachers still have tenure.

    • pixie

      Yeah, I really think that middle schoolers should have a class that has those things in it. Hell, they can even include sewing in that class and call it “modern life skills” or something like that.

  • Maria Guido

    I’m terrified of parenting teens. That is all.

  • Sadim

    So sad,..!!

  • https://twitter.com/_SimeonA703 LBN-3805

    She’s not born yet but I don’t even want my daughter posting pictures of herself at the beach not in one of those one piece bathing suits, not in a sweater, and definitely not in a bikini and if she posts some nude photos it’s a wrap for her

  • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

    Oh GOD. I remember being that age and having god knows who see me naked was the last thing I’d ever have wanted. A film photograph would have been too much. But Twitter?! I can’t imagine why this girl would do this, but the reasons could be any number of things ranging from stupidity to abuse.
    Now, I don’t know what the correct course of action is here, but some legal intervention/action is definitely needed because:
    A. You can’t allow for any legal ways for anyone to create underage pornography
    B. She is in dire need of some life lessons
    C. Her parents need to get involved in these life lessons

    I wanna go back in time and raise my son in the ’90s. It seemed so serious back then, but now I see it was sunshine and rainbows.

  • Rachel Sea

    It is flat-out nuts that a kid can be charged as a pornographer for taking pictures of themself.

  • Heather C

    Wet Mittens. That about sums it up. My oldest son is 11 and just starting the ‘wet mittens phase’ as I will now refer to it as. Thank you for forever improving my ability to explain things! Wet Mittens. ::snicker::
    Seriously though. My son will get, assuming they still have them, one of those phones where you can program in certain numbers, but he can’t call anyone else and NO DAMN TEXTING – Seriously, I don’t even text. It’s obnoxious- when he’s doing activities that warrant it. Right now, he goes to school, has an activity once a month, and comes home on the bus no matter what. So yeah. I’m with you on the no cell phone thing.

  • Justme

    I cannot tell you how many of my middle school students get in trouble with this very same thing on a weekly basis.