Saturday, December 6, 2008

Teens Should Not Have Cameras on Cell Phones, Says Expert on Sexting

Concerned your daughter may send naked pictures of herself to her boyfriend? Then you should not have given her a cell phone with a camera says, Dr. Sari Locker, a CNN contributor, sextologist, and Columbia University adolescent psychology professor. In a segment with CNN anchor Mike Galanos, Locker responds to the news story about Kings County, Wash., cheerleaders of Brothell High School (the name's now a surefire pun) who sent nude photos to their boyfriends via cell phone text message. It's called "sexting."

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has more details:
Parents of two Bothell High School cheerleaders have sued the Northshore School District, alleging school officials erred when they suspended the girls from the team this year after nude photos of them circulated throughout the student body via text message.

School officials learned of the photos in August after receiving copies from a source they have not named, according to the lawsuits. In early September, the two teens were suspended from the cheer squad -- one for 30 days and the other for the entire school year.

The Seattle P-I is not naming the families because doing so would identify the girls, who are minors.

Both lawsuits, filed Monday in King County Superior Court, accuse school administrators of violating the girls' due process rights, needlessly sharing the photos with other school staff members and failing to promptly report the matter to police as possible child pornography. (
Locker says the girls sent the pictures as a result of pressure to perform, partner pressure, and because their parents indulged them with cell phones that have cameras. Locker shows in the clip that she carries a cell phone sans camera and believes there's no reason to have a camera on a cell phone.

She thinks the girls sent naked photos to hold on to their boyfriends who are watching porn on the Internet. You can view the CNN video below.

Viewers called into the show opining that the parents' lawsuit is unwarranted and people today don't take personal responsibility for their actions. One caller said it's the parents' fault for letting the girls have the camera cell phones and said if the parents don't know about this type of behavior, then what else don't they know about their daughters. Galanos took the calls and also called the lawsuit "ridiculous."

The Washington cheerleader sexting story reminds me of "The Fab Five" scandal, that Texas cheerleaders case in which girls on the cheerleading squad practically ran the high school, but no real action was taken until trashy photos showed up on MySpace.
The pictures posted on looked like the latest installment of "Girls Gone Wild." In them, cheerleaders from McKinney North High School in Texas exhibited all variety of bawdy behavior. One shot showed a bikini-clad girl sharing a bottle of booze with a friend. Another featured a cheerleader and several other girls in risqué poses offering glimpses of their panties. But the most infamous photo of all was taken in a Condoms To Go store. Five smiling cheerleaders dressed in uniform posed with large candles shaped like penises. At least one of them appeared to be simulating fellatio. "It would be an overstatement to describe any of the photographs as pornographic, but it would be an understatement to describe them as harmless high jinks," wrote Harold Jones, a lawyer hired by the school district to investigate the incident. "Quite frankly, I personally found it 'creepy'." (Newsweek)
So far, however, the Washington state story seems to differ in that the two girls were trying desperately to impress boyfriends and not bully others or ruin the lives of everyone around them. It may come out later that they were hell on wheels as well. Who knows? For now it seems they are simply misguided teens.

Their parents appear to be suing because school officials passed the photos around and didn't view their daughters as potential victims of child pornography.

Both the Texas and Washington cheerleader cases have elements that may support Locker's take on young women in our celebrity culture. The sexologist thinks the girls' desire to be like the celebrities they idolize influenced them to send the nude photos. Celebrity females tend to take off their tops in our society, asserts Locker.

I think she's partly correct, but she may be missing a piece. I suspect the girls are also testing their sexual appeal and probably lack the self esteem and wisdom to find another way to do that.

In addition, I can't find the study, but I've heard of one that reports high school girls who do not have boyfriends are happier than girls who have boyfriends. Girls with boyfriends tend to focus on keeping the boyfriend happy. However, high-school boys with girlfriends are happier and do better in school because having a girlfriend improves their status and builds self-esteem. That study would support Locker's opinion that he girls felt pressure to hold on to their boyfriends and were so anxious to please them they did something stupid.

About those Texas cheerleaders, the Fab Five story became a Lifetime Network movie told through the eyes of the cheerleaders' coach who lost her job. The coach said she and others were victims of the failure of the principal, who was mother of one of the cheerleaders, and other parents to control the high school girls. In the movie, each time the coach tried to discipline the girls, a parent or the principal would undermine her efforts.

Here's a clip from that movie showing the Texas cheerleaders going to a sex toy store, exhibiting the bravado of young women who think they're cute and untouchable to authority.

Ironically, the Galanos CNN clip about the Washington state cheerleaders sexting naked pictures of themselves was followed by an unrelated CNN I-Report from "Naked News Boy" (J.Son Dinant), saying he's happy about former football star O .J. Simpson's recent sentence on kidnapping and assault charges. Yes, Naked Boy does the news in the nude.

I suppose it's o.k. for him to report news in his birthday suit because he's not a minor, doesn't expose anything below the shoulders, it seems, and he's not a girl. Naked Boy declares that he tells the news the way it really is, naked. I wonder how many hits his site gets from people thinking he really is a naked boy.

This is day six of NaBloPoMo.

No comments: