Turning In Your Own Teen For Sexting?


I don’t understand this. I don’t understand the parents’ thinking at all.

I can understand reporting a child to the police who is a danger to others, who has committed a serious crime, who is a burgeoning sociopath or psychopath who needs to be stopped before something terrible occurs. I can understand when not doing so amounts to being an accessory and an accomplice. It has to be the most wrenching of parental decisions, but I understand these things.

This, however, I don’t understand.

In Dinwiddie County, Virginia, parents became suspicious, and checked their 13-year-old daughter’s cell phone and tablet. They discovered their daughter, soon to enter the eighth-grade, had been sending and receiving naked pictures of other teens, including those who were much older, 17 and 18.

CBS reports that the parents called in the sheriff’s office, even though it means that she might be charged with a crime.   “We did this now to protect her for now and in the future, because this could get worse. She could be taken,” she said.

She could also become the victim of an overzealous prosecutor, and end up in the criminal justice system for what is essentially pre-crime, become cynical and hardened before her time, and be permanently scarred, never to trust her parents again.

The story is sketchy, so there may be facts we don’t know. Before I would call the cops on my child at 13 for what is essentially high-tech flirting, I would consider..

  • Grounding her.
  • Taking away her electronic devices.
  • Getting her counseling.
  • Moving.

Wouldn’t you?

32 thoughts on “Turning In Your Own Teen For Sexting?

  1. Alternative theory: this is a set of parents who are deeply concerned about their daughter, and who are probably ignorant of what social media looks like these days, and who have a similarly unsophisticated faith in the justice system.

    In other words, these folks are too ignorant to understand that the justice system will no longer willingly sign up to scare the shit out of your kid that said kid will straighten up and fly right, or that the media digs on crap like this story.

    Hey, they’re in eastern VA, but they may be far enough south of the Beltway that they might actually still be right.

    Hope they are. 13-year-olds shouldn’t be sexting. Nor should concerned parents be castigated for doing the best they possibly can.

      • Maybe this is the best they know how to do, Jack. You and I might agree that there are other courses of action – but I’m willing to give the parents the benefit of the doubt here.

          • Especially with the messed-up state of current sexual predator laws. They aren’t just wrapping her up with a bow for this year, but opening pandora’s box of a lifetime of punishment for their daughter. What do they do when she ends up on a predator watch list, and can’t get a job – and it’s their fault?

            • Did they contact a lawyer before doing this? I can’t believe any lawyer who didn’t get his diploma from mail order law school advertising on the back of a candy bar would ever advise such a course.

  2. I also read last week about the parents of a male teen who called the police on him for watching pornography on the household TV. One the cops are involved, you’re in a different realm that you as a parent have no further control of. Scaring a teen straight is an effective tactic. But purposely exposing them to the criminal justice system is altogether different.

  3. Most decent people believe that law enforcement serves and protects their communities and in many places they do. My guess is that these parents were overwhelmed with what they saw and felt their daughter had opened herself up to potential predators, exploitation, blackmail… not to mention the pictures could be placed on the internet or could come back to haunt their daughter years from now…when she is a teacher! The parents probably felt that law enforcement could do more than they actually could regarding the “passing on” of the pictures. I don’t blame the parents at all for going to the police. If I had a thirteen year old daughter sending nude pics of herself to other people, I would ground her, take away all her electronic devices, and lock her in her room until she was 21.

    • I tend to agree more with you here. I also hope the parents and their daughter will be agreeable all together, to obtain counseling. Both the daughter and the entire family unit could use some strong professional help on her social development and familial relationships, respectively.

  4. I concur that the details are sketchy. It seems that the parents were trying more precisely to turn in the 18-19 year olds that “did request that they have sex”, rather than turn in there own daughter for flirting.

    I read this as a question (did they request…?) at first, so turning their daughter in seemed an over reaction. However, if these are potential predators in the making, then the parent’s reaction might be appropriate.

  5. Impotent parents hand over custody to armed agents of what is rapidly becoming ObaMao’s country-wide personal Gestapo. Brilliant. The fools are probably thinking “she’ll thank us one day”!

  6. I’m reading this post while waiting for the cops to get here to McDonald’s to straighten out my hamburger order, (I naturally called 911), and I agree that people should take more responsibility for themselves. What’s wrong with these parents? Don’t they know they should sue the cell phone company for allowing transmission of these photos?

    • There’s an obvious and strange divide when in one part of the country parents are calling the police deadly predators of their sons, and in the other, parents are handing their daughters over to them voluntarily.

      • The voluntary submission to government authority in so many aspects of our lives is astonishing to me. Without knowing the circumstances of the girls parents, I can still speculate that IF they depend on the government for housing assistance, food assistance, healthcare, subsidized public transportation, and provision of the very cell phone in question, well then, WHY WOULDN’T they expect a government authority to sort out one more little difficulty?

        • An aside: What you said reminded me of a question about the Mike Brown shooting in Ferguson – it’s been gnawing at me for a week: Are there ANY cell phone records of calls to 911 from that situation? Did ANYbody make a call to SOMEbody after Brown went down in the street? Maybe I haven’t been paying close enough attention, but I have not seen ANY such info.

          • And THAT, Lucky, is a very interesting question, and one I did not think of. Speculation: would such a call have been made if Brown had shot Wilson? We’ll never know, I hope.

            • Or if Brown has rushed Wilson, was too much for him to handle, and ripped his head off?

              I don’t comprehend the argument I have been reading here and elsewhere that a police officer has an obligation to subject himself to harm or death by an attacking suspect who defies his authority. Cops are trained to stop an attacker, armed or not, before the attacker is in position to harm him. Putting restrictions on deadly force just assures more attacks and dead cops, because it removes the risk to the attacker.

              This argument is an example of re-defining reality to fit a desired result: we don’t want to see young men killed, so we pretend that they shouldn’t be killed even when they entailed the risk, placed themselves in peril, and defied law enforcement while threatening the police, and by extension, the public.

              Enablers of this conduct like Jesse Jackson, columnist Eugene Robinosn and others are already changing the narrative to be ready in case it turns out that Brown was killed mid-charge. Robinson:

              “Fatal encounters such as the one between Brown and Wilson understandably draw the nation’s attention. But such tragedies are just the visible manifestation of a much larger reality. Most, if not all, young men go through a period between adolescence and adulthood when they are likely to engage in risky behavior of various kinds without fully grasping the consequences of their actions. If they are white — well, boys will be boys. But if they are black, they are treated as men and assumed to have malicious intent.”

              Utter, utter garbage. If a white kid drives 120 on a slick road and crashes, he’s as dead as a black kid. If a white kid goes rock climbing drunk, falls and dies, he’s as dead as a black kid who does the same. Charging a police officer when you are 300 pounds is in the same class as these two stupid, reckless acts: they will get you killed, and if you are killed, it is your own damn fault, black or white. I think it is fair to say that charging a police officer IS malicious intent, and will be seen that way regardless of the color of the charger.

              This guy actually won a Pulitzer!

              Earlier, Robinson says,

              “When Officer Darren Wilson stopped him, did Brown respond with puffed-up attitude? For a young black man, that is a transgression punishable by death.”

              Unconscionable dishonesty! “Puffed up”? That’s some spin there, ER. Charging an officer who has ordered you to stop is acting “puffed up”? It’s called assaulting a police officer, is a crime, and the officer has the right of self-defense. It’s not a punishment when he is shot. It is the unfortunate consequences of his own lawless and reckless actions.

              • And you have just reinforced my original question, who in their right mind is going to pick a fist fight with a person wearing a pistol on his/her hip? I’m not.

  7. I wonder at so many older people, including those who fought for the vote and other legal rights seem determined to remove that for their kids. Eighteen year olds can have sex, marry, or die for their country, and making mistakes is sometimes a consequence of leaving the nest, no matter what age it’s set to be.

    I also wonder at the parents’ understanding, or their having been explained the dangers of sexting but didn’t also explain the dangers of a permanent record. I suspect scare tactic in media or church didn’t include a reasonable response.

  8. has the girl admitted to police that she produced and distributed child pornography? I believe those are some pretty serious felonies.

    • Sexting isn’t really child pornography—no child has been abused or exploited, because she did it herself. Prosecuting sexting as child pornography is idiotic and unethical, and I would argue, unconstitutional.

  9. First, I would never trust a story from CBS or an affiliate to offer all the pertinent details. It is very possible that the parents have already tried other things to no avail. So, if this is the last resort, yep, go for it. As a first response, bad idea. Keep in mind, however, that a 13 year old girl posting nude photos of herself is dangerous in the extreme, and the punishment for it should be harsh, possibly extreme, and instantaneous. A ball peen hammer applied to all of her electronic devices would be appropriate. With the proviso that she wasn’t getting another one until she was old enough to get out on her own, when her safety was not the parents responsibility.

    • . Keep in mind, however, that a 13 year old girl posting nude photos of herself is dangerous in the extreme, and the punishment for it should be harsh, possibly extreme, and instantaneous. A ball peen hammer applied to all of her electronic devices would be appropriate. With the proviso that she wasn’t getting another one until she was old enough to get out on her own, when her safety was not the parents responsibility.
      That’s what I’d do.

  10. When I was 14, we didn’t have cell phones and such.
    We did have boys, however, boys with raging hormones.
    And in my case, a fairly long walk home from school.
    My parents forbid me taking rides home with any boy, even if there were other girls present.
    Naturally, being a teen I finally did accept a ride, only only to pass my mother going to the bank.

    The whole rest of the school year I had to either get picked up by my mom (no one picked their kids up then, so it was terribly embarrassing), or walk home with my brothers (also uncool).
    Of course, I did not ride in a boy’s car again until I was 17 and allowed to do it…and even then, it couldn’t be just any random boy.

    I hated my parents’ protectiveness at the time but now I’m glad they were that way.

  11. Absolutely, Jack; it isn’t too often we are totally in sync, but this is one of those times. If they knew how the system all too often works, I cannot imagine that they would have handled it the way they did.

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