Saturday, December 05, 2009

Rep. Anastasia Pittman Addresses Sexting Craze

OKLAHOMA CITY – Over 50 percent of 14-24 year olds have experienced some form of digital abuse, and 3 in 10 have sent or received nude pictures through text messages, said state Rep. Anastasia A. Pittman, who plans to file legislation next session to address Oklahoma’s problem with sexting.

Sexting is the sharing of sexually explicit photos, videos and chat by cell phone. More than a quarter of young people have been involved in sexting in some form, an Associated Press-MTV poll found.

Pittman said the problem has hit home and has now become a serious problem in our own state and parents need to be aware. Currently, Oklahoma has no laws specific to “sexting”; however the act of sexting breaks numerous other laws.

“Sexting is becoming surprisingly common among Oklahoma teens. We need to educate not only the kids about the risks and liabilities involved but the parents. Parents, don’t be afraid to ask your kids about this – this is a crucial issue on the rise in our state,” said Pittman, D-Oklahoma City. “Sexting seems to be the newest craze for teenagers, and it is a very dangerous craze that could lead to numerous consequences.”

The practice has led to child pornography charges against teens in several states. Earlier this year, three Pennsylvania high school girls who sent semi-nude photos and four male students who received them were all hit with child pornography charges.

Currently in Oklahoma it is unlawful when a person facilitates, encourages or solicits sexual conduct with a minor by the use of technology, which includes any cell phone or computer. The crime is a felony charge that can result in up to 10 years in prison.  The law also states that every person who willfully and knowingly photographs, prepares, publishes, distributes, gives or exhibits any obscene material or child pornography is guilty of a felony punishable by 30 days to 10 years in jail.

“These teenagers see their behavior as free of consequences if they get caught and assume it’ll just be a slap on the hand. They are unaware of all the legal consequences involved,” said Pittman. “Not only is the sender of the obscene material breaking the law, but if the recipient forwards that picture or video to someone else, they too are breaking the law.”

The study conducted by MTV further showed that 12 percent of those who have “sexted” have contemplated suicide, which is four times more likely than those who haven’t, and targets of digital abuse are almost three times as likely to contemplate suicide as those who haven’t encountered it, and nearly three times more likely to have considered dropping out of school.

“Not only are there legal consequences involved but also there are so many emotional consequences,” said Pittman. “These teens don’t realize when one picture meant for one person gets shared with multiple people, it can destroy their sense of self-worth. We need to stop them from ever getting to that point.”

The Oklahoma City Democrat said she plans to file legislation clarifying the applications of the current law, and also hopes to launch a statewide campaign to deter teens from sexting. When it comes to online behavior, only half think their actions could come back to haunt them, and 1 in 4 believe that their digital actions could have legal consequences.

Pittman noted that MTV recently unveiled “A THIN LINE,” a new multi-year initiative to empower America’s youth to identify, respond to and stop the spread of digital abuse.  Digital abuse is an emerging issue that includes behaviors like “sexting,” cyberbullying and digital dating abuse.   

MTV’s “A THIN LINE” will address digital abuse issues through a series of on-air, online and real world initiatives, including integration in MTV’s top-rated programming, an MTV News special focused on Sexting, True Life: I have Digital Drama, thought-provoking PSAs, innovative online and mobile tools and the “Redraw the Line Challenge” -- which calls on young people to submit innovative digital antidotes to digital abuse. Today, MTV also launched where young people can access information, resources and support on issues related to digital abuse.

“I applaud this effort. This is a serious issue that is finally getting national attention. It’s about time we start the discussions of what we can do locally to protect the innocence of our children,” said Pittman.

Source. Oklahoma House of Represenatives Media Division, Dec 4, 2009

No comments:

Post a Comment