Criminalization of Being a Kid

I am significantly concerned with the way prosecutors and law enforcement officials approach child sexual behavior.  We rightfully have laws on the books designed to protect children from sexual predators, but these laws are regularly used against children who engage in consensual sexual conduct with their peers.  I know it makes me sound old, but when I was a kid, children getting caught playing spin the bottle would be sent home for a good lecture from their parents.  Today, parents regularly react by filing police reports, and prosecutors follow by filing charges.  Quite often, it is the boy who gets charged, even though both parties are juveniles and willingly participated.  That is, the girl has equally violated child abuse laws with her juvenile partner, yet only the boy faces criminal consequences.  These charging decisions may well violate the Equal Protection Clause of the of the Constitution, specifically a type of violation called "selective prosecution," a civil right among many.  Even if charged in juvenile court (which is technically not criminal and where the files are sealed from view) your child may be forced to register publically as a sex offender for the rest of his life if adjudicated as a sex offender--for engaging in consensual sexual conduct with his same-aged juvenile girlfriend.

Technology has greatly changed childhood sexual behavior, and kids now routinely share sexual photographs of themselves with other kids.  This creates significant criminal liability, as some prosecutors have viewed these acts as the illegal manufacturing and distribution of child pornography.  Recently, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would create a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years for creating or distributing child pornography.  While no one would ever condone child pornography, the law fails to create an exception for juveniles engaged in consensual acts.  If your kid gets caught with his girlfriend's nude photos on his phone, the consequences could be severe.  And as there is such routine gender discrimination in charging decisions, if his photo is found on her phone, he could very well be charged and sentenced severely under this law just the same.

Talk with your kids.  Quite literally, their freedom is on the line.