Child abuse in the name of preventing … child abuse

In the latest absurd sexting news, prosecutors want to induce an erection in a 17-year boy and photograph it in order to prove he sent a picture of his penis to his 15-year-old girlfriend. This is truly unbelievable, but it’s reported in the Washington Post, Alternet, and elsewhere.

I have to agree with the commenter on Gawker who points out the ridiculous irony:

So sexting your girlfriend a picture of your junk is wrong, but sexually assaulting a minor and taking photos of it is ok?

There aren’t a lot of details about this case yet, but it appears that the 17-year-old sent it to her consensually and her parents are upset. The legal issue with teen sexting is that by taking a photo of his erect penis, technically he produced, possessed, and sent child pornography (of himself) and she also possessed it. Usually prosecutors will only pursue these cases if there is some clear harm in the incident. But at the same time, an estimated 7% of all child pornography production arrests in 2009 were for consensual behavior between minors with no aggravating factors. In other words, a couple hundred teens are being arrested each year for consensual sexual behavior.

This is unjust and absurd. In the US it’s currently unconstitutional to arrest same-sex couples for consensual sex. Why are we still criminalizing consensual teen sex?

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