One of the things I do as the editor of the Weekly Mailer is to go through the daily police reports. Most days the entries are boring and mundane but on occasion there are some really nutty things that get written up.
Fortunately, for all you speeders and law breakers running stop signs and not using your turn signals, we no longer print all of the police entries in the paper. Maybe those entries were just too boring, or we ran out of space and wanted to print actual news instead of your traffic offenses. Either way, the only way you will get your law breaking in the paper is if it is something really substantial that deserves to be in the paper.
Still, as I peruse the police reports there are some things that really puzzle me. One that I have seen a number of times over the past few months is both ridiculous and embarrassing to the people that are named. If your name appeared in the example I am about to give there is no need to panic – I will not be printing your name here even though you might deserve to have it listed.
The complaint to the police department goes something like this. A man (why is it always a man) calls to report that he is being threatened with exposure. What is somewhat ironic is that only by ‘exposing’ himself in the literal sense, by snapping a picture of his unmentionable anatomy and then sending it in to someone he has never met in person and only knows from listings on social media, he has essentially set himself up to be extorted.
ACTUAL PHONE CALL TO - 911 CELL RP ADVISED THAT A GIRL ON FACEBOOK TOLD HIM SHE WAS GOING TO POST A VIDEO TO FACEBOOK THAT HE SENT TO HER. RP SAID THAT HE DIDN'T SEND HER THE VIDEO SHE IS CLAIMING HE SENT HER. SHE ALSO SAID SHE WAS GOING TO TELL EVERYONE THAT HE IS A PEDOPHILE .
The police take the report but I’m not sure that they are too concerned about finding the criminal in this enterprise as the act of snapping a photo of your privates and sending it over email to some stranger is probably just as illegal and ridiculous as it is to extort someone for monetary gain for doing so.
Was it Nancy Reagan that had the campaign “Just say No” which was targeted at the drug trade, encouraging kids to just say NO. Perhaps we should get the current first lady to embrace and promote a new malady – that of sharing snapshots of anatomy that really should remain “under cover”. I’m sure that we could find thousands of poster worthy American men who regret going down that path, though I would doubt that they want their picture or name associated with the cause.
Even as I mock the practice in this article I should point out that there are many real victims. We live in a society where kids are given phones at ever younger ages. Those phones all have two things that kids love – a camera and internet access. Those two things can be innocent and even beneficial when used in the correct way, but they can also combine to pull them into traps similar to the example above. Curiosity and the want to be accepted often combine to take kids down a path that quickly turns into real peril. A simple internet search will take you to any number of youth who after using the camera on their phone inappropriately quickly turned into embarrassment that ends with them taking their own life. That is no laughing matter.
Simply having an inappropriate picture of anyone under the age of 18 on your phone or in your possession is child pornography and is no laughing matter. Even if you are tricked into either side of this practice, you are still guilty of possessing child pornography.
If you are a parent of children who are allowed to have a phone, this is one very serious conversation you need to have. It might be a little hard to talk to them about but better to have discussed it before it happens than after. Certainly, the last thing you want to do is to push them into a place where they are afraid to talk to you about something they have done. If adults are falling prey to this con of exchanging intimate pictures of themselves over the internet imagine how much easier it would be for a kid to get trapped into the practice.
It seems like being a kid in this age is so much more complicated than it ever was for us. There are so many more perils for them to avoid than there ever were for us. If you are a curious adult do yourself a favor and don’t even go there. To think you know who you are talking to over the internet because they have a nice picture they are willing to send you is foolhardy. Don’t be “the guy” who files a police report because you are being threatened with exposure. Just say NO.