The sad truth of child pornography in schools

A naked picture. A nude. A sext. Something someone sends to a person they think they trust. It could be a joke or just for fun; maybe it’s lustful, or maybe it’s for love. A chance to flaunt or an incident of pressure.

No matter what, any sexually explicit image of an individual under 18 years of age in the United States is child pornography.

According to the United States Department of Justice, images of child pornography are not protected under First Amendment rights and are illegal contraband under federal law.

United States Code defines child pornography as any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a minor (someone under 18 years of age), which includes any image of a nude minor that is relatively sexually suggestive, not just if the child is engaging in sexual activity.

Any violation of child pornography law is a very serious crime, and any offender can face severe consequences.

Child pornography is considered a heinous act and a very serious matter, but what isn’t necessarily commonly known is how child pornography is heavily relevant in our local community.

It isn’t just the stereotype of middle-aged sexual predators who are associated with the distribution of child pornography, in Duncan it has become fairly applicable among adolescents.

There are students in the high school who are sexually active and participate in sexting, many of whom take pictures of themselves fully or partially nude and distribute it to at least one significant person.

Gwen* admitted to exposing herself to this issue at an early age.

According to Gwen* she was in the eighth grade, around the age of 14, whenever she sent a nude photo of herself. Two years later the photos started to circulate.  

“Someone that didn’t like me got them and sent them around to people,” Gwen* said.

The culture of casually sending nudes among teenagers in the United States is becoming more of the norm. According to DoSomething.org, 24 percent of high-school age teens, ages 14 to 17, have been involved in a form of nude sexting.

Although there are certain distribution methods made to control the time the image is viewed (such as Snapchat), it is possible for the receiver to save and keep the image. Within the context of that relationship, the receiver may have power to do with the image whatever they please.

Gwen* said it affected her emotionally and socially.

“It was really embarrassing at first, but it didn’t really harm me,” Gwen* said. “It was just hard to go to school after all of it happened knowing everyone has seen you naked.”

The reason people may want distribute these images can vary from bragging rights all the way to a form of humiliation or blackmail. Group messages have even been formed for people to share their stash of nudes or recent findings.

The act of distributing child pornography has developed a strong resemblance to a trading card game. However, revealing someone’s nudes is not a game. It’s sexual abuse, and it hurts.

Marcy* also came forward to speak about an incident where photos of herself were leaked.

According to Marcy,* someone close to her betrayed her, and they used her pictures to claim revenge.

“Everyone was completely negative. I had no one,” Marcy* said. “People would go out of their way just to talk negatively about me, out loud, almost to my face. Whenever I thought it got as low as it possibly could, it got worse.”

Not only does nude culture hurt those who are victimized by it, but it also strongly affects those who abuse it.

Recently in the state of Colorado over 100 students at a high school in Cañon City were involved with a nude sexting ring. Charges could amount to a Class 3 felony (possible fine of $3,000—$750,000  and 4-12 years of jail time) if students took “a picture of themselves showing a naked private body part and sent it to another person, received such a picture and forwarded it to another person, or received such a picture and retained possession of it over time,” the Cañon City School District said.

In Oklahoma a child pornography offender could face anywhere between 30 days to 30 years, and may be required to register as a registered sex offender.

Despite all of the conflict and harm this issue has caused, victims can still manage to learn and grow from this experience.

“I’ve come to know myself,” Marcy* said. “It gave me time to myself to only focus on myself, and it gave me self confidence despite all the people putting me down.”

*All above sources have asked to remain anonymous