Problem Child

FOR DOWNLOAD MORE GALLERY A new story today indicates that the 15 year-old teenager from Newark, Ohio, who was arrested and charged with felonies relating to child pornography, was taken aside and warned of her behavior a month ago, after a presentation in her school by officials from the Licking County Prosecutor's Office.

While the details are still sketchy, it appears that everyone knew that this girl was sending nude photos of herself with her cell phone and were doing everything possible to warn her and give her a chance to stop. This presents a very different side of the story which explains the harsh treatment of arresting her and detaining her in jail for a weekend.

I still contend that charging this child with felonies and tagging her with sex offender status are extreme punishments, but there is leeway in the law to allow for a judge to modify any punishment.

Certainly she is being used as an example by prosecutors to send a strong message to any other kids thinking about sending nude photos with their cell phones, but at what cost? This girl is obviously troubled and needs some serious counseling, and throwing this sort of life-altering burden upon her will only add to her despair. I cannot imagine her state of mind at this moment, having lost her reputation, her friends, her school, and her freedom, all at such a young age. They are all potentially driving her into a suicidal state.

This is not murder, or destruction of property, or any other violent act. It is not theft, or drunk driving, or actual sex. It is a photograph. This kid is growing up in a country where the media is saturated with sexual imagery, and pornography is available to anyone of any age with an Internet connection. When once the mating game was played out at sock hops and drive-in restaurants, it is now done on Facebook and MySpace, electronically and with sexy photos.

It should be no surprise when a child imitates adults. Instead of throwing the real pornographers in jail, who are actually licenced and protected by the law to go about their business, it's far easier to target the tender young victims and ruin their lives.

Maybe this kid is a bad seed, a real problem child. I simply do not know. But I hope that she gets a break somewhere along the line and can eventually lead a normal, happy life.

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