At the outset of any account that sketches the details of the following story, it’s a safe bet to say that the tale will receive a fair bit of national attention and also have many readers scratching their heads.
Here’s why. In an act that certainly qualifies as youthful indiscretion and unreasoned behavior, a 16-year-old Virginia girl posted nude pictures of herself on Twitter. And then, in an ironic twist, she found herself the target of police scrutiny, ultimately being arrested and charged with distribution of child pornography.
To summarize: She is deemed by law enforcement as both a victim and a victimizer.
The act of posting so-called “selfies” on Twitter or an Internet social media site such as Facebook is a growing and already widespread phenomenon, especially among teenagers. And it is not unusual for criminal charges to be brought when such images appear online as the result of sexting activity that is marked by nude images.
Until now, though, media reports have focused on those images being posted by persons other than the victim. Just last month, for example, a juvenile female in Canada was convicted on a child pornography charge for posting naked pictures of her boyfriend’s former girlfriend.
The case from Virginia is sharply contrastive and begs the question of what is to be gained from attaching criminal consequences to the embarrassment and likely humiliation that the teen victim has already suffered.
Myriad reports on the matter cite a likelihood that the teen will be required to participate in counseling and an educational program in lieu of facing harsher criminal consequences that could flow from a pornography conviction.
In commenting on the case, a police official stated that any person who saw and sent the picture -- or any similar picture of a juvenile -- to any other party could also face a criminal charge, even if the sender was another juvenile.
Source: CNET, "Teen charged with child porn for allegedly tweeting nude selfies," Chris Matyszcyk, Feb. 9, 2013