When most of us think of a “sex offender,” we think of child molesters, serial rapists, and some sketchy guy spiking the drink of a young coed. The title of sex offender more than likely triggers a connection to the darkest corners of our minds. Scrolling through a list of nearby sex offenders sends a chill down the spine as we visualize the dark and sinister “do you want some candy little girl,” nightmare. When I hear the words sex offender I think—traumatic, horrifying, vile, disgusting, violating. The crimes that fall under those words should most certainly be subject to harsh penalties, life sentences, and perhaps even new legislation involving castration.
The trouble with the sentencing of sexual crimes arises when all sex crimes are created equal. Its no secret that there has been a great deal of debate in regards to statutory rape. It is not uncommon to hear about a seventeen and a half year old girl having a twenty year old boyfriend who ended up on the sex offender list because her parent’s and the courts are legally allowed to overlook the fact that both individuals openly admitted to having consensual sex. I have even found myself joking to my brothers about carding girls they date, just to be on the safe side.
While examples such as the one above have sparked debate for quite awhile, a more technological driven offense has taken over center stage when it comes to classifying and prosecuting sexual crimes. The media has been wildly covering the hot topic of “sexting.” Sexting involves sending sexually explicit material via text messages to other mobile phone users. Currently teens across America are finding themselves added to a long list of sex offenders for sexting to other teens photos of themselves.
Now, here is the point where we should all ask ourselves, does a seventeen year old girl or guy deserve to be labeled as a sex offender for sending a nude picture of their ass to another seventeen year old girl or guy? In the age of Myspace, Facebook, and Youtube, many would argue that behavior such as sexting is simply an extension of the culture in the present times. I tend to agree with that theory. Do I advocate an 8 year old sending nude pictures to, well anyone? Absolutely not, but I am definitely not on the bandwagon with kids having cell phones below driving age to begin with.
There tends to be a great deal of “gray area,” when it comes to sexually offensive crimes. So I want to pose a few questions to all of you. To simplify this I would like to post a list:
- How should our society view teen sexual activity?
- What sort of changes should be made to our legal system in regards to sexual misconduct?
- Do you think it appropriate that individuals in similar situations to the sexting scenario above be labeled sex offenders the same as the likes of child rapists and serial rapists?
It should be interesting to get feedback on this subject. I find myself increasingly disturbed by our legal system and the actions of prosecutors dealing with these cases, but because there are moral and ethical concerns raised by each of these issues it is rather difficult to determine the appropriate course of action. I intend to write a follow up post on this subject and specifically abstinence only sex education programs. Stay tuned.
eelliso1 is a contributing writer for projectgroupthink.wordpress.com. Get instant updates for this blog via Twitter: PGTblog.