By Heidi M. Malarchik, Deputy to the USAG Stuttgart Garrison Commander
The National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) has some great tips for keeping teens safe from texting. If you believe your teen has been a victim of sexting or has been coerced into sending or posting nude or partially nude photos, help is just around the corner at your Family Advocacy Program Office.
When you mix nude or partially nude photos, cell phones, and teenagers, potentially unsafe and even criminal situations can occur. It is important for parents to recognize and understand the dangers of sexting so they can protect their teens, prevent potential sexual abuse, and avoid serious long term consequences.
Let’s start with the definition of sexting. According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, sexting is “the sending of sexually explicit messages or images by cell phone.” Both the UCMJ and U.S. Code define a minor as any person under the age of 18 years old and have criminalized sexting which is legally defined as the “sending of sexually explicit texts or nude or partially nude images of minors by minors.” These images generally meet the classification of child pornography which is defined as the production and/or distribution of images of a minor which are nude, partially nude images.
Often the sexually explicit photos are taken voluntarily and shared voluntarily as part of the pop culture flirting ritual. The person sharing these images could be charged with distribution of child pornography. In many cases the individuals involved do not realize the severity of the offense they have committed. The production of nude or partially nude images of minors, constitutes child pornography as defined in Article 134, UCMJ and Title 18 U.S. Code Sections 2252 and 2252A. Additionally, under the German Penal Code it is a crime to expose nude images of a minor or self-produce nude images other than a nude selfie.
Production and Distribution of Child Pornography thru Social Media (Sexting)
The following Crime Prevention information shall provide background information on the frequency of minors within the U.S. and possibly at overseas installations to unwittingly produce and distribute images of child pornography when they expose and/or distribute nude or partially nude images to include “selfies” and to provide parents with information to better monitor the internet usage of their children.
There has been a noted increase in the production of child pornography in the form of sexting within the middle and high school age persons throughout the U.S.. (However, being stationed overseas with dependents should not be rule out that these behaviors don’t happen). This increase is directly due to the prevalence of personal media devices and the rapidly growing social media applications in common use. In many cases the individuals involved do not realize the severity of the offense they committed. In any regard of the production of the images, they do constitute child pornography as defined in Article 134, UCMJ and Title 18 U.S. Code Sections 2252 and 2252A. Additionally, under the Ger-man Penal Code it is a crime to ex-pose nude images of a minor or self produce nude images other than a nude selfie.
Both the UCMJ and U.S. Code define a minor as any person under the age of 18 years old and have criminalized sexting which is defined as the sending of sexually explicit texts or nude or partially nude images of minors by minors. These images generally meet the classification of child pornography which is defined as the production and/or distribution of images of a minor which are nude, partially nude images. For more information on this article, please contact the local CID office at DSN 430 – 2976.
Although this article discusses about minors, one should keep in mind that these minors are in our community and in some cases our dependents.
Additionally, when the dependent’s sponsor is a Service member, Article 134 UCMJ and German Penal Code apply to the Service member and DoD civilians are subject to the German Penal Code and US Laws.
Therefore, regardless of our status, Active Duty, Reserve, DoD Civilians, Contractors, CID asks each of you to look after one another and your dependents. Accountability helps enhance the safety and the well-being of all. Care for one another as caring, develops a culture of prevention. When pornography is utilized to this extent, it may also enable a sexual assault.
Therefore, when knowing of a minor who has been sexual assaulted, please contact the following:
MPs DSN: 430-5262/5263 (after duty hours call 116) and FAP Social Work Services DSN: 430-4163 (after duty hours call MPs at 0711-680-5262/5263 or 116).