The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Teens take texting to a new level

When younger generations grow up in the age of MySpace, Facebook and YouTube, their level of exposure to explicit and sexual situations are much greater than those before them. So what ends up happening to these tweens and teenagers when puberty and curiosity hits?

Instead of reading or writing in a journal about their sexual desires, these young people are sexting. Sexting is when adolescents take naked or explicit pictures and send them to each other.

Now parents and schools are outraged when they catch the kids with the raunchy photos. The terrifying part is yet to come. Curious boys who are checking out the racy stuff sent to them by other girls and buddies are being prosecuted for possession of child pornography.

Now these young boys might face a life labeled as a sex offender, when they were merely horny and curious.

The problem is a mixed message. The Internet has opened up opportunities for adolescence to explore. Instead of the medical textbook that displays the male and female anatomy, teens now have Google. All around them are images that feed their sexual desires, but parents constantly forbid any activity.

While they might not even be engaging in the actual act of sex, they can’t learn how to channel their hormones without facing possible life-altering charges.

Child pornography laws need more clarification. Since the generation that is prosecuting children hasn’t grown up in a digital, easy-access world, it’s hard to believe that they know when and how to convict.

The first problem is the level of exposure. Any adolescent can go online and with a few clicks end up seeing explicit photos. Any child with a growing sexual desire is bound to start digging for answers. That’s no surprise.

But parents and teachers often take the scared approach. They hope to scare the child off and ban them away from thinking, acting or talking about sexual activities. The child is then left on their own to discover desires and often times they will look for answers from their friends.

If a group of girls take naked pictures on their cell phones and then circulate them through texts, what are the boys supposed to do? Just because they are curious doesn’t mean they should be accountable for child pornography. The line is blurry and lawmakers don’t know how to deal with the problem.

Child pornography laws are meant to protect children. A perverted adult taking pictures of young girls and possessing them for his own pleasures is a clear violation of the law. But when it is an adolescent taking pictures of him/herself and showing him/her friends, is that the same?

I’m not advocating that a young girl takes naked pictures and sends them to her closest friends. Pictures could get in the wrong hands. Girls are often labeled as a slut for having sex and sexting could have the same repercussions. It’s pretty unthinkable to see a young person faced with child pornography charges when they are mere reckless acts of sexual behavior based off raging hormones.

The key is education. Think back to your days in junior high school. Students take a few sex-ed courses in which they learn about menstrual periods, the male and female anatomy and reproduction.

Students are taught how they can end up pregnant and sexually transmitted diseases are contracted, but are never taught protection. Instead of learning about condoms, STD prevention and ways to fill sexual desires without actually having sex, the course often forbids students from talking or doing anything that is sexual.

Adolescents are then left to discover on their own. So when a text message comes up with a girl’s breasts, a hormone-raging teenage boy is bound to look. Does that make him a pervert? No. It just makes him like every other average teenage boy discovering his desires.

If parents and teachers taught kids how to deal with their sexual desires in other ways than just sex, maybe kids wouldn’t have to go surfing to the raunchiest porn Web site they find figure out what it is they need.

Sexting is simply another way of sexual discovery at a young age. Just because older generations didn’t have cell phones and social networking Web sites doesn’t mean they wouldn’t have acted the same way. So stop charging hormone-infested teenagers with possession of child pornography. After all, they’re only curious.

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