Text messaging graphic pictures of yourself could soon be legal for teens in Vermont.
Lawmakers there are considering a bill that would make it legal for teenagers 18 and under to exchange explicit photos and videos of themselves – an act that’s come to be known by teens as “sexting.”
Under the current law, teenagers could be prosecuted as sex offenders if they get caught sending graphic sexual images of themselves, even if it was consensual.
Here is one of those weird situations that our sexually saturated sex-crazed society has created for us to work out. First of all, I don’t think that teenagers should be prosecuted as ‘sex offenders’ if they get caught ‘sexting.’ The truly deviant ‘sex offenders’ in our society are in an entirely different category so some distinction needs to be made. However, what many seem to fail to notice is that these ‘sex offenders’ are being created by the libertine atmosphere in our society. Today it is ‘sexting.’ In ten years, in and out of a few destructive relationships and ever pushing the limits of desensitizing, you get a sex predator. Then people have the audacity to be surprised.
This idea that you can unleash sexual expression without consequences is utterly ridiculous. Regardless, there seems to be a whole class of people in our society who want to take down every limit of sexual expression while feigning disgust when people behave without limits.
So, it should not be illegal in the sense that they could be made ‘sex offenders’ but it seems to me that legalizing it is not the right tact. I mean, it is not the right tact if a generation hence you want a stable society that is not riddled through and through with pedophiles, sex addicts, broken homes, etc, etc. So what should society do? If the ‘sex offender’ legislation is removed what should replace it? I honestly don’t know. I have the feeling that the solution to the problem is well beyond the reach of the government.
My hunch is that what is needed is a sea change among parents and citizens in general who will frown on this behavior and consistently condemn it. Parents in particular have to be vigilant in monitoring the use of technology by their kids and abandon the illusion that their kids, of all kids, wouldn’t dream of engaging in such behavior. Although that comes with with a caveat: kids who have been brought up with a clear sense of where the limits are and understand that consequences follow when the limits have been transgressed will be more likely to show restraint. Human history is pretty much agreed on that point.
In contrast, consider the advice provided by a certain ‘expert’ in the article:
Karen Salmansohn is an expert on talking with teenagers about smart choices. She writes books to empower girls, and says parents need to talk to their kids about the dangers of sexting — using their language.
“Don’t talk to them in language saying this is right this is wrong. That’s not going to get to a kid,” Salmansohn said.
“You have to talk them, you know what you think is cool isn’t so cool. You have to use the language of cool because that’s why they’re doing it.”
This is mostly nonsense. I don’t agree for a minute that kids are doing it because its ‘cool.’ We aren’t talking about a hair style fad. We’re talking about a particularly powerful biological impulse. An impulse, I might add, our society has collectively decided it won’t dare constrain.
I will agree that the language of ‘right and wrong’ won’t work with many kids today, but that is because hitting them with that language when they are 15 is 15 years too late. Of course it won’t work then. If kids are instilled with an understanding of ‘right and wrong’ from early on they will already be able to see through ‘cool’ things. The language of ‘right and wrong’ does not preclude the ‘dangers of sexting’ nor the dangers of any other destructive behaviors.
As it happens, behaviors traditionally believed to be ‘wrong’ also correlate with nasty consequences. It is ‘wrong’ to steal a car, even if its cool. Also, if you don’t steal a car- surprise!- you won’t be thrown in jail. Guess what? If you don’t have sex before your wedding and your spouse does likewise you won’t have to worry about an STD. See how this works? Funny how the ‘traditional morals’ that society has seen fit to dispense with tend to coincide nicely with creating the results we basically want. Funny how dispensing with those morals tends to create all sorts of nasty consequences we don’t want.
The great modern aim is to dispense with the traditional morality and still avoid the nasty consequences that tend to follow after they’ve been thrown out.
Good luck with that!
On the other hand, the ‘language of cool’ is completely devoid of substance. Kids are smarter than we give them credit for. They understand that you can’t pull the morality rug out from underneath them and then still act as though they are standing on it. Perhaps the only remedy for the current situation is for everything to get worse- really, really worse. There is nothing like hitting rock bottom to help change your way of thinking. Perhaps individuals, and society itself, needs to do just that before it wakes up and sees reason.