So we’ve all heard of “sexting” by now right? In case you haven’t, it’s the increasingly popular trend among young people to take compromising photographs of themselves and then send those photos to the object of their affection, usually by text. Often the recipient obligingly passes the snaps on to others, and the photos begin to spread and take on a life of their own.
Not only is this phenomenon distressing for those involved, it can lead to criminal child pornography charges for the children involved. The law always lags behind technology, and this is an area where it’s still catching up. Just last month New Jersey lawmakers proposed a bill that would create a diversionary program for “first-time offenders.” The object seems to be to teach teens, particularly girls, that taking these pictures has serious consequences, while avoiding criminal charges. My guess is that by the time the situation has gotten that far along, the girl in question has already figured that part out.
The U.K. is taking a different strategy, this month launching an awareness campaign aimed at helping young people learn to be mindful of their “digital identity.” The campaign includes this 10-minute short film, which can also be used by parents and teachers to learn more about sexting and talk to their children about Internet safety. The video is interesting, if possibly a little hokey. I’m not sure if that’s just cultural aspects coming through or what.
So what do you think? Is awareness-building or punishment a better strategy for combating sexting? And do you think a video like this can be effective?