Teenage Wasteland

FOR DOWNLOAD MORE GALLERY A Utah teen has been convicted of "dealing in harmful material to a minor".
Judge James Michie sentenced the teenager to pay $600 in fines, to undergo counseling, to submit a DNA sample for a state database, to pay for potential counseling for victims in the case - and to stay away from cell phones with camera options.

Michie told the 16-year-old lacrosse player to inform his friends that trading nude photos of themselves and sending sexually oriented text messages are crimes.

"For some reason, a lot of young people think sending inappropriate texts is not a big deal," Michie said.

"It's dangerous . . . next thing you know, there you are on YouTube," he said. "You need to communicate with your peers that this is a serious crime and it needs to stop."
The teenager was sending photos of his "abs and groin" to a girl he was dating. They continued to date for a month after the sexting began, and the girl apparently never told him that she had a problem with what he was doing until he was hauled into the Principal's office.

The boy has been undergoing "treatment" through Mormon Social Services. Treatment for what? It's clear that he was sexually frustrated, desperately looking for love in apparently all the wrong places. What kind of girl receives sexual advances for a full month, doesn't tell the advancer that she is not interested, and then takes action through school authorities? I'm not saying that this boy was not being a pig, but all she had to do was tell him to drop dead.

One of the problems in getting authorities involved in personal sex lives is that people tend to forget how to solve their own problems. Instead of working things out with neighbors, we go to court to file lawsuits. Instead of confronting people over sexual harassment, we call the police.

So what happens to this kid now? He was originally charged with three felony counts. He is reported to be "absolutely ashamed" of what he did. Instead of understanding, he is receiving punishment. Instead of finding release for his sexual frustration, he is being forced to bottle it up even more. Every time this boy looks at his own penis he will be reminded of only shame.

Society has to come to grips with this sexting phenomenon, which is not trafficking in child pornography, it's experimentation during sexual awakening. Instead of destroying the lives of healthy teenagers, we should be ratcheting up sexual education to meet the demands of the technological age. With cell phones, YouTube, MySpace, Facebook and all the other means of instant communication available, there is no way to stop the distribution of sexual material, especially with teenagers.

Even if you took away all the computers and cell phones, sex would still find a way. In ancient times there was lover's lane, or parking, or skinny-dipping. Teenagers were, and are still, having sex in their parents' homes and cars. The difference was that there was no photographic evidence to alarm the older generation. I shudder to think what my parents would have thought if they came across a nude photo of my girlfriend on my cell phone - they would have freaked. The only way I could have taken a nude photo back then was with a film camera, which would have required processing at my local drug store, or in a darkroom.

I don't think they were stupid enough to think that I wasn't having some sort of sex in my late teens, but if they didn't have to see it, or talk about it, then it was not a problem.

When the Utah judge exclaimed that being on YouTube was dangerous, he didn't bother to explain why. We are steeped in the mindset that photographic images of ourselves are somehow
threatening our very existence. This will very quickly change as nude images of people become ubiquitous. It's the end of privacy, folks, and these cell phone photos are merely visual evidence of what was once part of a teenager's private world, and the older generation simply cannot handle it.

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