Should a 12-Year-Old Child Face Porn Charges for Sexting?

There’s a legal situation brewing in Northwest Indiana that should give us all pause regarding the purpose of the law.

First, from the Sun-Times:

A 12-year-old boy and 13-year-old girl from Northwest Indiana are accused of "sexting" each other, officials said.

Each could be charged with child exploitation and possession of child pornography for allegedly sending nude photos of themselves over their cell phones, officials said.

Earlier today, I wrote about 12-year-old Jordan Brown who was 11 when he was charged as an adult with two counts of homicide for the shotgun shooting of Kenzie Houk, 26, and her unborn child in February. As of this writing, Judge Dominick Motto has not yet ruled on whether Jordan will be tried as an adult or a juvenile. Now, we have two young children possibly being charged with child exploitation and possession of child pornography for allegedly sending nude photos of themselves over their cell phones.

What the hell are we doing? Is the purpose of law to punish, or to assist society to move to a higher place? A better place?

I know the two cases are very different. On the one hand, we have a child charged as an adult in a double homicide case. On the other hand, we have two kids sending nude pictures of themselves over their cell phones. However, in both cases, we have the potential for very adult charges against children.

Ask yourself this: if the person arrested for "sexting" nude pictures of 12 and 13-year-old children was 50, would you be more angry at the alleged murderer (if he was an adult), or the guy or gal sending JPEGs of children?

I would be furious with the 50-year-old dude sending out pics of kids. Given the number of murders committed by adults in the Chicagoland area every year, I’m afraid to say, I don’t know if I would even read that story. That’s not necessarily right. That’s just where I am, I guess.

What is the purpose of our legal system? Is it better to punish a child — a child — for life, or should we help that child move to responsible adulthood? Would you want your child charged with pornography for doing something stupid children might do because we give them the phones, and therefore the means, to do so? What would you have done with that technology as a 12-year-old? How responsible would you have been?

Do we really want a legal system that forces our children — our children — to become registered sex offenders for life … at age 12?