Friday, May 29, 2009

Hawaii Teens to be Prosecuted for Sexting?

According to the news report on May 29, 2009 on KHON2 News,  the Hawaii State Attorney General's Office is implying that Hawaii teens may be arrested for "sexting". 

Here are some of the implications:
1) If the teen is convicted, he/she will be classified as a sex offender and required to register as such with the Hawaii Sex Offender Registry.  In addition, if they move to the mainland to attend school, they may have to also register in that state depending on the state's legal requirements.
2) They will also have to state they are registered sex offenders when filling out forms which ask if they have been convicted of a crime.
3) The device that the teen used, cellphone and/or computer can be forfeited to the state.
4) The stigma of being labeled a convicted sex offender will have long ranging effects on the future of that teen on many levels; social,  professional, psychological, and emotional.  The effects will definitely be far reaching and will impact them for the rest of their lives.

I AM a very strong proponent of disciplining the teens for their wrongdoings.
And that the teens need to know that there can be severe consequences to their actions.
But the punishment/discipline should fit the crime.
In the case of "sexting", the discipline/punishment might be more damaging that the crime itself.

I think we should start looking at the "spirit of the law" rather than the "letter of the law".
The statutes were meant to protect our children from being victimized by child pornographers and pedophiles.  

If the State starts enforcement by making arrests, hopefully the Courts will have some latitude in the sentencing.  In the meantime, the Legislature should start working on either drafting new statutes or start making amendments to our current ones.

But most important, parents need to start parenting!
The schools & law enforcement can only do so much.
Parents need to start communicating with their children and explain that their actions can have dire consequences.
Explain to them that if they misuse/abuse their technology, it will be taken away from them.
If they (the parents) does it, then their devices will eventually be returned.
If law enforcement and/or the courts do it, they lose their devices - permanently!

If  you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at

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