Digital dating abuse

Sexting (sending naked photos of oneself or peers) is one form of it. Other forms: nonstop text messages from/to a boyfriend or girlfriend (or anyone), a digital form of stalking; sending around unbecoming photos or videos of someone via phone or Web; hacking into a peer's profile and cruelly misrepresenting him in comments that look like they're coming from him; or posting mean comments to someone in her social network profile or via an app like "Honesty Box." "The behaviors can be a warning sign that a teenager may become a perpetrator or a victim of domestic violence," reports the New York Times, citing the view of the San Francisco-based Family Violence Prevention Fund. In fact, the Fund, a public-awareness nonprofit, calls this "digital dating violence," not just "abuse" (it can also be called "cyberbullying"). If not physical, it certainly can do violence to people lives, including the lives of young people who send nude photos of "themselves." For example, this month six high school students in western Pennsylvania were charged with child pornography, three girls with distribution (for taking and sending nude photos of themselves) and three boys with possession, a commentator at CNET reports. The Minneapolis Star Tribune today reported that "all but one of the students accepted a lesser misdemeanor charge, partly to avoid a trial and further embarrassment." But they were charged with serious crimes, and two Florida teens fared much worse in 2007 (see "Teens' child-porn convictions upheld"). "Whatever the outcome, the mere fact that child pornography charges were filed at all is stirring debate among students and adults," according to the Star Tribune. Law professor Mary Leary wrote in the Virginia Journal of Law and Policy last summer that, though prosecution in such cases shouldn't be mandatory, it "should remain an option for the state."


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