According to a new study done by the University of Rhode Island on 204 college students last spring, 56% of students have received a sexually suggestive image on their mobile phone, 78% have received a sexually suggestive text message, and two out of three students have admitted that they’ve sent sexually suggestive texts. To break things down even further, 73% of these sexual messages (the study doesn’t specify whether it was images or texts, but our money is on the latter) were sent to a partner, while 10% were sent to people you may as well call “strangers”. These findings are important seeing as how a new bill was passed that states “minors who create and send sexually explicit images of themselves can be charged with a ‘status offense’ and referred to family court.” It gets even more grim from there: “Minors and adults who possess or forward sexual images of anyone younger than 18 may be charged under the state’s child pornography laws.”
Now every time we cover a story like this we come to the same conclusion, that kids will be kids, and just because they’re using a new medium to do the old “you show me yours, I’ll show you mine” dance, it doesn’t mean that they should be charged with a criminal offense. If your scumbag partner shares your intimate photos with his friends, either as a way of showing off how physically attractive you are, or as an act of revenge due to the relationship ending, then that should be considered a violation of privacy, not child pornography.
“At the young age of most college students, people are filtering through relationships at a faster rate. People want to feel a sense of belonging, so they are sharing more of themselves with people they are still getting to know. Once they click that ‘send’ button, they don’t know where else a message will wind up.” — Tiffani S. Kisler, one of the two leaders of the team that conducted the study.