The Doctors discuss one British mother’s request for advice on how she should have handled her son’s online behavior. The mother discovered her 14-year-old son was pressuring a 13-year-old girl to send him nudes over Instagram. Reportedly, the mother was monitoring his conversation and watched the interaction without intervening until the girl sent over the photos. The mother has questioned if her son’s autism and ADHD is to blame.
Clinical psychologist and attorney Dr. Lisa Strohman joins on Skype to discuss the legal implications of this situation as well as the mother being “the perfect example of how not to handle this.” Dr. Strohman says she should have intervened immediately when she saw her son soliciting child pornography.
The mother using her son’s disabilities as a defense would be a mitigating factor if this got to a sentencing phase but Dr. Strohman says it is certainly not a defense. This situation puts everyone involved at risk. The 14-year-old son could be charged with solicitation of child pornography as well as possession of child pornography. If he shares it at all he could have a third charge of distribution. The fact that the mother was surreptitiously watching this interaction from her own device now puts her in the position to be charged with viewing child pornography. Lastly, the 13-year-old who sent the photos could be charged with distribution of child pornography.
ER physician Dr. Travis Stork notes this boy asked the girl to send the photos to prove she loved him, meaning, he had the ability to manipulate. Knowing this, Dr. Travis believes saying it’s the boy’s autism or ADHD is not an excuse. Parents need to have a conversation with their children to let them know this type of behavior is inappropriate.
Dermatologist Dr. Sonia Batra says she read the statistics that 1 in 12 young people have sent sexual content and 1 in 25 has sent graphic photos of themselves online. Dr. Strohman says she thinks the statistics are actually much higher. She believes more than 50% of all teens by middle school have sent inappropriate pictures.
Dr. Strohman says it is important for kids to know they are being monitored and that their phones are a privilege, and it’s the parent’s right to assert their control.