It sounds like something out of William S. Burrough's The Wild Boys.
PARENTS will be urged to snoop on their children in a bid to halt an alarming rise in the number of teenagers sending sexual images of themselves via mobile phone..." reports The Sydney Morning Herald today.
Community Services Minister, Linda Burney is apparently "horrified" that teenagers are sending naughty pix of themselves via mobile phone and whereas the government advice was previously to respect teenagers' privacy and let them do their thing on the net it has suddenly done an about-face and decided that parents need to snoop, spy and generally act as Big Brother to everything their adolescents are doing on the internet, lest they send off an MMS or upload a photo that potentially damages not only their future career prospects, but also destroys their chances of ever having a boyfriend/girlfriend, will "become part of a young person's 'digital footprint', lasting forever", as well as leading them to being raped by an evil, axe-wielding child rapist, if I read the honourable member's anxiety levels correctly.
Yet another moment in the ongoing saga of child porn hysteria? Methinks so. I mean, at 36, I'm sorta over the hill, but I remember in my heyday we may not have had mobile phones or the internet, but there was notwithstanding sex all around. Lots of it. The fact is, teenagers have always been fascinated with and having sex and these days they just exploit sexuality all the better for having modern technology to do it with. I'm not saying young people should go gung-ho and send naked shots of themselves to all and sundry or even that's it's a good idea to send a sexually explicit picture of yourself to anyone full stop. Definitely not the brightest idea considering most teenage relationships last about two weeks on average.
But where is the evidence that doing so will damage your future prospects or lead to sexual assault? I'm not saying that it's impossible that sending explicit MMS messages of yourself won't lead to any of these things, but is there any hard evidence that doing so will? Is there an epidemic of sexual assaults on teenagers by serial child rapists because they're being idiots about how they use their MMS features? Not one shred of evidence is in fact cited in the article.
Except for the incident related in the last paragraph:
"In New Jersey, a 14-year-old schoolgirl has been accused of distributing child pornography after posting nearly 30 nude pictures of herself on MySpace.com - charges that could force her to register as a sex offender if convicted."
Well, of course if the state is going to convict you, punish you and force you to register yourself as a sex offender for sending nude pics of yourself then it follows that doing so could be self-damaging. But it's the state that's doing the damage, not anyone else. The Minister does a brilliant Newspeak take on this incident:
"Everyone needs to understand that, first and foremost, it is illegal to take sexual photos of children and young people and it is also an offence to pass them on. Young people do not often think about the consequences of their actions. What they now think is an innocent joke or just flirting can be very damaging if it falls into the wrong hands."
In plain English this would read, "Teenagers need to understand it's illegal to take sexual photos of themselves and pass them on, because adults like me are totally and hysterically morally outraged by the idea that teenagers could even think about sex, let alone engage in its activity."
And it goes without saying that the evil perpetrators here are 100% totally out of control boys and the victims are all pure, innocent, but dumb, gullible girls being pressured. Which is an insult to the modesty and decency of most boys and the intelligence of most girls.
I mean if we're criminalizing kids and punishing them for making "child porn" of themselves instead of focussing on hunting down the real bastards abusing kids out there, what the hell have we come to? I reckon people like the Minister could do with a good sit-down on the psychoanalyst's couch. But first of all before that she needs to go out and get herself a brain.
Kids are kids. One of the things about being a kid is that you tend to end up doing childish, silly, irresponsible things. That's part of growing up. Turning kids into sex offenders for being childish is about the most crazy and mule-like way of thinking I've ever heard of. It could only be invented by the zany Americans, and as Australian Ministers, with their repressed Victorian-era baggage just aren't smart enough to think of such convoluted ways of dealing with a problem, lazy Australian Health Ministers subsequently eagerly adopt US-style practice without a momen't reflection. Does anyone really seriously think that apart from pandering to a conservative electorate and avoiding spending any money on practical things like "edyookaishun", snooping and spying teenagers is actually going to be a Solution To The Problem?