Such programs have demonstrated very little success, but at least they don’t directly harm teens. Other responses are more dangerous. Teen girls can be prosecuted under child pornography laws for taking nude photos of themselves. As one judge said, incredulously, “It seems like the child here [is]…the victim, the perpetrator, and the accomplice. I mean, does that make any sense?”
If sexting is framed as dangerous in itself, girls who sext become perpetrators. And that means the state can target them for punishment. Among other consequences, this means sexting laws become a way parents can use law enforcement to squash relationships they don’t like. (Hasinoff points to instances in which parents used sexts to prosecute their children’s same-sex boyfriends or girlfriends.)
Parents, understandably, may not be eager to hear that their children are sexting, just as they may not be eager to have their kids date. But sexting isn’t innately harmful or pathological or evil, and the worst-case consequences are less dire than for many other forms of teen sexual expression. Criminalizing it doesn’t make sense.
I am uncertain of what, if any, legal solution there is for a morals issue. You cannot legislate morality (drugs, prostitution, gambling) and criminalizing teens, branding as a “Sex Criminal” for ill-thought actions will not ‘help’ them.
Their son remains out of school — he’s due to return Monday on strict probation. But in the meantime, the events of the past six months have wreaked havoc on the formerly happy-go-lucky boy’s psyche. His parents say he’s withdrawn socially, and is now under the care of a pediatric psychiatrist for panic attacks and depression.
The couple — both are schoolteachers — have filed a federal lawsuit against Bedford County Schools and the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office. It refers to their son only by the initials R.M.B.
It alleges Bedford Middle School Assistant Principal Brian Wilson and school operations chief Frederick “Mac” Duis violated his due process rights under the U.S. Constitution.
“Essentially they kicked him out of school for something they couldn’t prove he did,” said Roanoke attorney Melvin Williams, the Bays’ lawyer.
It also accuses the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office of malicious prosecution, because Deputy M.M. Calohan, a school resource officer, filed marijuana possession charges against the boy despite field tests that indicated otherwise.
“The field test came back not inconclusive, but negative,” Williams said. “Yet she went to a magistrate and swore he possessed marijuana at school.”
The couple said Duis ultimately rejected Wilson’s recommendation for expulsion, but instead suspended their son for 364 days. The reason Duis cited in a letter he sent later was “possession of marijuana.”
The juvenile court hearing happened late in November. When the Bays got there, Sitzler informed them that the commonwealth was going to ask for a continuance because they had neglected to send the leaf off to a state lab for testing.
Linda Bays told Sitzler they wouldn’t agree to a continuance. Sitzler went back to the prosecutor, “and she came back and said they were going to drop” the charge. That’s when the Bays learned the leaf had field-tested negative three times.
The school system also required the boy be evaluated for substance abuse problems. So the Bays took him to his longtime pediatrician in Lynchburg, who referred them to a pediatric psychiatrist.
They said the psychiatrist told them he didn’t believe their son had a substance abuse problem. But by then, the boy had other problems. After the disciplinary hearing, “he just broke down and said his life was over. He would never be able to get into college; he would never be able to get a job,” Linda Bays said.
Now their son is skittish about going out in public, suffers from panic attacks and is depressed. The psychiatrist is treating him for that.
The long-awaited decision from Montgomery County Child Protective Services has arrived at the home of Danielle and Alex Meitiv, and it finds them “responsible” for “unsubstantiated child neglect” for letting their kids walk outside, unsupervised. If that decision makes no sense to you, either—how can parents be responsible for something that is unsubstantiated?—welcome to the place where common sense crashes into bureaucratic craziness.
Today in the U.S., innovation tends to occur in the freest sectors of the economy, while sectors most closely affiliated with government stagnate. Because LASIK eye surgery is largely funded by customers, it’s improving by leaps and bounds. Government-subsidized hospitals, by contrast, can barely share equipment without running into a thicket of regulations controlling collaboration.
“Kids act out movies that they see. When I watched Superman as a kid, I went outside and tried to fly,” Mr. Steward told the Daily News. “I assure you my son lacks the magical powers necessary to threaten his friend’s existence.”
Principal Roxanne Greer declined to comment on the 4th grader’s suspension, citing confidentiality policies, according to the Odessa American, which first reported the story.
Mr. Steward said he requested a written explanation from the school as to how his son’s statements constituted a “terroristic threat” and was told the school would put the letter in the mail.
Ms. Greer, you need to ‘splain something. FFS