There’s a very refreshing proposal being put out this week by the UK’s bipartisan All-Party Parliamentary Group for Children (APPGC). Simply put, they want the police to have tools and discretion to prevent minors involved in consensual sexting from being charged criminally or have the incident go on the minor’s permanent record.
It makes sense to us. Whether parents like it or not, sexting is increasingly part of the courting process. We don’t argue that it is correct, or wise for kids under 18 (or adults, necessarily) to be sending nude pictures or video, but surely these consensual incidents aren’t what lawmakers had in mind when the current child pornography statutes were drawn up – on either side of the pond.
According to the APPGC:
“In cases such as these, police should have the discretion to refer the child to another agency for support – their school, social services or counselling, for example – without it forming a permanent part of the record held against the name and undermining their future.”
At ThirdParent, we want to put the power back in the hands of parents. If a consensual sexting allegation surfaces, surely parents are better equipped and positioned to educate and urge better behavior than are the police. And as the APPGC argues, the impact that such charges can have on future education and employment opportunities is significant.
If your son or daughter sends a private, ill-advised picture to a romantic interest, and that picture somehow becomes public, does that warrant full prosecution by the police and the courts? Of course not. As on online commenter on Schools Improvement site’s story said:
“Just shows how rotten our system has become that legislators have to beg the executive to stop doing something insane.”
Less insanity, please. Parents, before you get your kids that first cell phone, please talk to them about the risks of sexting. It’s never too early.
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