Post User Polls

Should 'sexting' earn criminal punishment?

Students at a Bethesda middle school bought, sold and traded inappropriate photos and videos of fellow students, school officials said Thursday, and Montgomery County police are investigating. Read the full article.

By Jodi Westrick  |  April 16, 2010; 10:28 AM ET  | Category:  Local , National Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Should paddling be allowed in schools? | Next: The region's best ethnic restaurants


Please email us to report offensive comments.

Each case should be viewed on an individual basis. If it is done without the expressed consent of the participants, especially by an adult, then probably yes. If it is soley children who are doing this they need to be made aware of the possible disastrous consequences before being labeled as criminals. Parents, wake up and get in your kidz business. Remember, YOU ARE their privacy as long as they are minors.

Posted by: cntnulprze | April 17, 2010 1:10 PM

Uh, WaPo...

The question linked on your front page that brought me here (at least as of Sat @11:45PM)...

Poll: Should 'sexting' equal capital punishment? VERY DIFFERENT from the question you asked here. In other words, I do NOT think that "sexting" warrants a DEATH SENTENCE.

Posted by: ComfortablyDumb | April 17, 2010 11:49 PM

If the facts support the charges, then yeah they should be charged (again, not an option in the poll). Face it, people are going to look for someone to blame, and in a vacuum, it's only a matter of time before some idiot parent decides to sue the principal, or the parents of one of the more enthusiastic kids, or whomever.

The kids should be allowed to go on with their lives -- keep them in the same school and all that. I'm assuming here that these kids are basically normal; 99% of kids since forever have been filthy little buggers at heart, community standards be damned.

But they should be made to own up to what they did and really understand the fact that it's wrong and illegal and not fair to the other kids. A judicial process, however lenient, is on of the more reliable ways to do that.

Posted by: Godfather_of_Goals | April 18, 2010 1:30 AM

Our laws are out of hand and often vastly overpunish folks just to satisfy public dismay at what are often "nothing" crimes.

Posted by: RealTexan1 | April 18, 2010 3:34 AM

I am here to comment for the same reason as the poster at 11:45 pm.

It's now 04:50 am. Five hours have passed, and your website's headline for this story STILL reads "Poll: Should 'sexting' equal capital punishment?"

CAPITAL punishment(!).

Do you have high school students editing this website? Do you have ANYONE editing this website?

Posted by: egb3 | April 18, 2010 4:55 AM

If you can prove that the images were sold those students should be charged. They are by definition pornographers.

Posted by: Sparham1 | April 18, 2010 7:30 AM

Maybe not capital punishment. We should transport them to Australia.

Posted by: spidey103 | April 18, 2010 9:14 AM

The previous poll was about whether it was OK to beat those especially naughty children in school. Now this poll is introduced with imposing capital punishment for sending naughty pictures over the Internet.

It is definately hazardous to be a minor.

Posted by: riskpref | April 18, 2010 9:22 AM

I think the person who said that sexting does not deserve capital punishment had it right. We tend to ask the question "is it criminal?" with a "yes" or a "no". But we also need to ask what punishment is appropriate, something which even the Mikado understood.

For instance I believe that late abortions not involving emergencies should be punished by a requirement of public service as atonement. But I would oppose more severe punishments.

Same for sexting. It should not be "anything goes" but neither should it be "all punishments are OK."

Posted by: rohitcuny | April 18, 2010 10:33 AM

There is such a rush to pass blanket laws--for everything--when, in fact, many situations are far more complicated than can be covered by blunt-forced regulations. Sexting is such a case. In most cases, the actual picture was taken by the person who will, subsequently, call themselves a "victim," sent to someone he/she thought was a friend. Then, of course, there are other cases where pictures are taken unknowingly or under duress, hardly a similar situation. Then there are situations, apparently like this, where pictures are being circulated for money--again, a different, more troubling scenario. The first thing that should happen in schools is simply more education, especially among middle schoolers, about the unintended consequences of taking a picture of yourself that you don't want your parents to see. Beyond that, these cases should be taken on a case by case basis, and in the most egregious cases, there may already be laws in places that would apply.

Posted by: SherlockHolmes | April 18, 2010 10:57 AM

You can not give every child in the country a camera and not expect some pictures that are not appropriate. But that does not make it pornography. Do you really want that many "sex Offenders" and register every one for the rest of their lives.

It wil ruin the list as a law enforcement tool.

Posted by: GaryEMasters | April 18, 2010 11:18 AM

Sure, make it a punishment if the texter and the photographee are both charged. The individual posing in the icture is just as much to blame.

Posted by: mark0004 | April 18, 2010 11:22 AM

How about some parental responsiblity and stop buying children cell phones or at least buy ones without a camera function. Or even better, teach their children some responsibility and self respect. I think laws are in place that are being enforced because parents are failing to parent. So if you cant parent your child expect the governments form to be much less forgiving. That said, I think keeping it as a 'sex offender' crime is overboard.

Posted by: m052699 | April 18, 2010 11:33 AM

"How about some parental responsiblity [sic] and stop buying children cell phones or at least buy ones without a camera function."

I think it all went wrong when we allowed the kids to use the internal combustion engines and allowed them to use electricity.

If you guys cared about your kids, you'd make them take the horse to travel and then use semaphore to communicate via line-of-site.

Then we could make sure our kids are under control.

Posted by: Ombudsman1 | April 18, 2010 12:54 PM

the anti-sex league never sleeps. if i had a kid and they got jailed or worse, incarcerated in some psychiatric torture chamber for 'behaviour modification' by society's pliers... forever labeled a 'sex offender' by evil 'family values' authoritarian goons... duty would require that all on the side of prosecution be caused to wish they'd never been born. get the church out of our crotch and the state out of our bedrooms. refuse to negotiate with the church-state terrorists.

Posted by: adelaney2 | April 18, 2010 1:27 PM

Its not April First, but maybe some of you folks are getting unreasonably upset by what may have been a lame WP attempt at a pun?

Capital Punishment vs capital punishment

Posted by: RarelyPost | April 18, 2010 1:34 PM

As regards due process and criminal prosecution ,do we want the possibility of a permanent record made available of adolescent hormonal imbalances?

Is it fair? I do not think so. The kids need to corrected but not branded. A permanent record could easily brand them for life. But wait they are not 21 or even 18.

Posted by: alvin62 | April 18, 2010 4:57 PM

"Sexting" really needs to be handled on a case-by-case basis. It's foolish and wrong, with unpredictable and likely bad consequences. But in the case of a minor sending pictures of himself / herself to another minor, it seems unlikely that there would be a conscious intent to harm anyone in a way that should be considered criminal. Transmitting indecent pictures of someone else -- especially without that person's consent -- is another matter entirely.

Posted by: postmodernbarbarian | April 18, 2010 5:41 PM

This is just a price of technology. What is needed is advanced moral thinking by adults. We cannot take for granted we know right from wrong. We have to address all the ways in which right and wrong not only exist but can come to exist. That takes moral imagination. May experts at such be born and help inform us in our decisions.

Posted by: daniel12 | April 18, 2010 6:36 PM

Tweens and teens really don't understand what criminal punishment they could be facing; they could be labeled sex offenders for life over this and at age 13 their future could be ruined and that is just not right.

If teachers were selling the images then that is a whole other matter.

Posted by: flonzy3 | April 19, 2010 8:17 AM

Kids will be kids. They have been doing these things for hundreds if not thousands of years, only now they have better tools for "show me yours & I'll show you mine". We as parents need to try to set some limits, but this hardly rises to criminal activity.
And certainly NOT Capital Punishment!

Posted by: DrBones721 | April 19, 2010 9:24 AM

"A permanent record could easily brand them for life."

"they could be labeled sex offenders for life over this"

No, they can't. There is no such thing for offenders of that age.

Posted by: Godfather_of_Goals | April 19, 2010 9:48 AM

They need to be severely punished, no doubt about it, but criminal charges are a bit melodramatic, in my opinion.

Posted by: ZZim | April 19, 2010 10:08 AM

When we were kids we stole dad's Playboys or Hustlers and passed them around (and occasionally an 8mm porno). What do we really expect with all the digital media today, and celebrity news media that suggests sex photos are cool? Teens have lots of hormones and little judgement.

Non-judicial or deferred punishment for the non-victims is fine, as long as it is reasonable. If some of the kids were really vicious or hurtful consider more serious punishment. Don't overreact.

Posted by: outragex | April 19, 2010 10:23 AM

well i think ppl r kinda dumb for sayin no... no girl or boy should put their nude bodies out there like that ugh.... this stuff makes me mad...Your body is a gift yu guve to some one... ugh if the want to do that than they should be made fun of!!!

Posted by: msbrod1 | April 28, 2010 9:40 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2011 The Washington Post Company