Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A Girl’s Nude Photo, and Altered Lives

Technology is clearly altering the way we communicate - in both good and bad ways. The changes have big implications for journalists and society. Ten years ago - who thought cell phones would have cameras? Or that people would be using them take pictures in locker rooms or to distribute naked photos of themselves? - MT

Elizabeth Colón and Jon Reid gave a presentation about the consequences of sending risqué photos and text messages after three students were charged in a sexting case at their school. Neither was involved in the case.

NYT - LACEY, Wash. — One day last winter Margarite posed naked before her bathroom mirror, held up her cellphone and took a picture. Then she sent the full-length frontal photo to Isaiah, her new boyfriend.

Both were in eighth grade.

They broke up soon after. A few weeks later, Isaiah forwarded the photo to another eighth-grade girl, once a friend of Margarite’s. Around 11 o’clock at night, that girl slapped a text message on it.

“Ho Alert!” she typed. “If you think this girl is a whore, then text this to all your friends.” Then she clicked open the long list of contacts on her phone and pressed “send.”

In less than 24 hours, the effect was as if Margarite, 14, had sauntered naked down the hallways of the four middle schools in this racially and economically diverse suburb of the state capital, Olympia. Hundreds, possibly thousands, of students had received her photo and forwarded it.

In short order, students would be handcuffed and humiliated, parents mortified and lessons learned at a harsh cost. Only then would the community try to turn the fiasco into an opportunity to educate.

Around the country, law enforcement officials and educators are struggling with how to confront minors who “sext,” an imprecise term that refers to sending sexual photos, videos or texts from one cellphone to another.

But adults face a hard truth. For teenagers, who have ready access to technology and are growing up in a culture that celebrates body flaunting, sexting is laughably easy, unremarkable and even compelling: the primary reason teenagers sext is to look cool and sexy to someone they find attractive.



  1. This is a definite privacy issue that is just waiting to hit the court system. But what are law enforcement officials going to do about this? Minors are already banned from distributing and viewing obscene information on the web; are cell phones next on the list?

  2. Courtney, I think this distribution should definitely be banned but how do you propose they go about doing that? Without intercepting every text message sent, I don't see another way. Intercepting text messages could be a huge breach of privacy. I see it as the same core issues as the Patriot Act just with a different facade.