A boy in North Carolina is in far more trouble than he should be for doing something that most teens and many adults likely do these days. He took pictures of his own naked body.
The boy, Cormega Copening of Fayetteville, was 16 at the time he took the pictures. He’s 17 now, but he was tried as an adult. While the plea deal saved him from the sex offender registry, he did agree to throw away his 4th amendment rights by agreeing to warrantless searches for a year.
The entire arrest was constitutionally dubious. He was caught up in a sting trying to expose people who were sharing naked pictures without the subjects’ consent. He wasn’t part of that.
To be fair, along with the four counts of having his own naked image, he was also tried for possessing an image of his 16-year-old girlfriend. She took a plea deal as well for having suggestive selfies on her phone.
“It’s dysfunctional to be charged with possession of your own image,” said Justin Patchin, a professor of criminal justice at the University of Wisconsin and co-founder of the research website cyberbullying.org.
Source: The Guardian
At 16, both of these teens were of the age of consent in North Carolina. Of course it should be illegal to take and share naked pictures without the subject’s consent, but the actions in this case were nothing more than trying to shut down teenage sexuality.
“There are about 10 or 12 mostly conservative states where they will prosecute kids for this,” said Lane, “and it’s a kind of moral values thing – they are trying to make an example of them because it’s believed to be inappropriate behaviour.
“There is a streak of moralizing that runs through this country that is disturbing sometimes.”
Child porn is a significant problem in this country. Billions of dollars are spent every year exploiting innocent children and for law enforcement, it’s almost like playing a game of whack-a-mole. Whenever the catch someone, it seems that several more pop up.
It’s estimated that Copening and his girlfriend are in good company. 20 percent of teens have shared nude or provocative selfies. 30 percent have sexted other students. Several states have laws on the books making this illegal, but it’s rarely prosecuted. Some even make kids register as sex offenders.
The ugly truth about the boy in North Carolina is that he is a victim of right-wing neo-puritanism. This is the same attitude that allows teens to believe that it isn’t sex if it doesn’t involve the vagina. Abstinence only doesn’t work and arresting teens for taking naked selfies isn’t going to stop the practice. It’s time society learns who the real child porn traffickers are instead of going after the lowest of the low-hanging fruit–the children.
Featured image via Flickr.