By Mark David Blum, Esq.
I want to talk about two of my favorite things: Sex and children. I do not refer to sex with children. Instead these are two different topics. Sex is one. Children, is the other. Truth be told, I am not all that fond of children.
Childhood has best been described as being the process of an “adult in training”. It is a transitional phase entered into around age 2 or 3 and for many, not completed until age 40 or so. Mostly we expect our children to changeover to adults at some point in their late teens or early 20’s. At 21, we allow them to fly supersonic fighter jets, vote, perform surgery, and patrol our streets. The process of changing from an adult in training into an adult is a gradual one occurring in incremental stages over a period of time. It comes with life experience. Another thing adults do is have sex. The more sex we have, the happier we are. As adults in training, sexual maturation is a process that starts in young adulthood with that first kiss and moves into the activities we enjoy as a matter of routine.
Sexual maturation is a normal part of the transition to adulthood. We have to recognize that our “children” are sexual beings by nature and as they grow, they are going to learn all there is know about the wonderful world of sexual pleasure. Clearly the thought of it makes us uncomfortable and we don’t like it. Nothing we as parents or society can do can stop this learning process. It will happen in the open or in secret. But as we all know from our own histories, it will happen. Eventually.
In Indiana, a 13 year old girl and a 12 year old boy face felony charges for “sexting” with each other. They each sent naked pictures of their private parts to one another via their cell phones. A teacher accidentally discovered it when the phone rang during class and was confiscated. We are talking about two young teenagers who took pictures of themselves for their own use. Each is now charged with possession and transmission of child pornography.
This is just not right. Our system has gone haywire and we are over reacting to a very natural process of maturation coming into contact with 21st century technology. The children certainly need to be spoken to about making such photographs public as they can come back to haunt you later (a lesson they already learned). Obviously their parents need to have a talk about sex with them to make sure they are aware of what they are doing. But it is a sin to involve the criminal justice system or otherwise civilly or criminally punish these children for engaging in normal healthy exploration. They were not harmed; they were teasing and tempting each other. Prosecutors have filed 3 felony counts against each.
What is our intended outcome? Our overreaction will scar them. Any punishment society inflicts upon them will remain with them forever. For what? Engaging in normal maturation? Is the goal of prosecutors to brand each child a sex offender for life? What good comes of this prosecution? How can we expect them to mature into adults with healthy sexual attitudes? In my opinion, this prosecution causes more harm than good under any intention behind the law. These children need the support and counsel of adults; not the heavy hammer of the penal law.