Teens who take revealing pictures of themselves to send to other teens are getting more than embarrassment: They're getting a criminal record as a sex offender.
The problem of revealing teen pictures has been getting a great deal of attention lately, with a recent survey finding that 36 percent of teen females and 31 percent of teen males have posted or electronically sent nude or semi-nude pictures of themselves.
But now, because both the senders and the recipients are underage, teens are starting to get slapped with child pornography charges -- charges that will, as the saying goes, be on their permanent record and could require them to have to register as sex offenders in the future.
In Pennsylvania last week, three high school girls were charged with manufacturing, disseminating or possessing child pornography. Three high school boys found with the photos on their cell phones are charged with possession of child pornography. The girls, who took their own pictures, are 14 or 15 years old, while the boys are 16 or 17 years old.
While it is not the first time such charges have been filed, it may be the first time that girls taking their own pictures have been charged. In Texas, a 13-year-old boy was arrested on child pornography charges in October after he received a nude photo of a student on his cell phone (a particularly ominous development -- getting back at someone by sending a nude photo to them and getting them arrested).
In Utah, a 16-year-old boy was charged with a felony for sending nude photos of himself over a cell phone to several girls. Also in Utah, several teens in Farmington who sent such pictures were threatened with child pornography charges a year ago but it is unclear whether such charges were ever actually filed.
And last spring, in La Crosse, Wis., a 17-year-old boy was charged with child pornography, sexual exploitation of a child and defamation for allegedly posting nude photos of his 16-year-old ex-girlfriend on his MySpace page. The girl had taken the pictures with her cell phone at her mother's home and e-mailed them to the boyfriend, authorities said.
"Authorities trying to identify youngsters in naked photos are increasingly discovering that the teens themselves took the shots, said John Shehan, a director at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children," according to the Associated Press.