Children as Child Pornographers

Following on from Monkey’s post a while back, it seems there’s quite a disturbing trend going on back in my homeland. Teenagers who take naked pictures of themselves are being prosecuted as child pornographers. When they text them to their friends, they’re charged with distribution, and the friends are charged with receiving child porn. I’m not surprised, on reflection, that the images they make are classified as porn. It’s harder than I’d initially imagined to find ways to exclude these images from a porn definition. (Intent? Well they intend to share them and they intend to sexually arouse. The fact that no money changes hands? Quite rightly, this doesn’t matter in other child porn cases. Content? No reason to think that’s any different. Who’s taking the pictures? Well, a paedophile could get a child to take the pictures.) But it seems really obvious nonetheless that the kids shouldn’t be prosecuted. As noted in the comments to Monkey’s post, one of the things about child porn is that the kids are legally unable to consent. Surely that also means they are legally unable to blamed for the act.

Hmm.. I’m having doubts now… Teenagers who shoot people are rightly held responsible. Any philosophers of law out there want to help out?

Maybe a better fix would be to define ‘child pornographer’ and ‘recipient of child porn’ in such a way that only adults could fill this roles?

7 thoughts on “Children as Child Pornographers

  1. Careful of the quick fix: one can imagine a teenage “entrepreneur” exploiting others and so creating ordinary child porn for wide distribution and profit. Their age shouldn’t excuse such exploitation.

    The more relevant features here would seem to be that the photographers are self-focused and independent (rather than working on, or for, anyone else — so there’s no “exploitation of others” going on), and the outputs are shared only with close personal acquaintances rather than distributed indiscriminately.

  2. i wonder is it relevant that teenagers aren’t charged with statutory rape when they have sex with other teenagers? that seems related…

  3. yes, i suppose they are. this morning i recalled that the local government in the case of the ‘baby daddy’ (the 13-year-old british father who’s been in the press lately) made a point of announcing that they didn’t think it would be in anyone’s interest to charge either of the parents (the mother is 15) with rape. as if there were a question of whether they would/should. it’s an interesting question why it seems wrong to prosecute in these cases, tho. (tho it definitely does, no?) inability to consent implies inability to violate the right of someone else to consent??

  4. So, are you saying if Your 13 year old boy or girl,

    Was with friends and took as a joke a photo of him or herself, and sent it to a boy or girlfriend… and some how a parent found it on their phone… that that child should be branded a Child Pornographer, a Sex Offender for the rest of their lives???

    Is that what you are saying? Because all across America, that is what is going on… every where, ever school, every city… everywhere… countless millions of kids are sexting…. you can read all about it, see the videos… cfcamerica.org teens section.

  5. I tell you this….

    Countless cases of 18 year old boys having sex with 14 year old girls.. the boy goes to prison.. girl walks as she is too young to make a decision about sex… but
    14 year old girl kills some one, and instantly, she is tried as an adult.

    What’s up with that?

  6. cfcamerica – that’s exactly what we’re NOT saying. We don’t think that people you describe should be branded a child pornographer, sex offender, and so on. We’re pointing out that under a new law that has been passed, they are. And we’re saying that’s a bad thing.

    (We’re also musing about the fact that it’s difficult to formulate a law to exclude them.)

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