Body space

Our view: Parents need to better police teens' use of social networking sites

March 29, 2009

MySpace may be a great way to connect with friends, but when teenagers start peddling nude photos of themselves on the social networking site, it's time for one of those father-son, mother-daughter talks.

The latest episode of "show me yours and I'll show you mine" hails from Passaic County, N.J., where prosecutors last week charged a 14-year-old girl with distributing child pornography. The child in question was the same teen who allegedly posted more than two dozen racy nude photos of herself on MySpace.com for her boyfriend's viewing pleasure - and clearly others'. Charging the teen with such a serious crime - a conviction could land her on a sex offender registry - was a heavy-handed response to the girl's actions. But the photos apparently were risque enough that the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children felt compelled to alert New Jersey authorities.

The problem of "sexting" - the term for sending nude photos via cell phone - is cropping up across the country, and teenagers have been charged with similar crimes in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Connecticut and five other states. That's a harsh way to learn that most basic of lessons: keep your privates private.

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