Editorial: Sextortion case should be wakeup callPublished 7:19pm Wednesday, February 1, 2012
The so-called “Niles 5 sextortion” case caught the attention of the media, educators and the whole community.
Let’s hope that it is a case that we don’t soon forget.
While it was a shocking and disturbing incident, it was one that needed to happen to shed light on a growing problem that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.
Although studies vary regarding the number of students that participate in “sexting” or sending nude photos or sexually explicit texts, an interesting anecdote came out of this case.
During the sentencing of Trey Nichols, a victim spoke on his behalf.
“If you are going to sentence him to prison, you might as well send half the students at my high school to prison,” she said.
Let’s hope parents and educators are listening.
Regardless of the results of studies or what parents want to believe about their children, sexting is an issue.
“If you think you don’t know a teen who has done this (sexting), you’re deluding yourself,” Cotter said at a Niles community forum in August. “It’s common, probably as common as underage drinking.”
And as this case showed, it’s not just teenage shenanigans. It’s a punishable offense. A teenager taking a nude or sexually explicit photo qualifies as producing child sexually abusive material, a 20-year felony under Michigan law.
Four of the five defendants in this case received a prison term with Martell Miller getting a year in jail.
We hope that this tragic situation has some redemptive value in serving as a wakeup call to students, parents and educators, who all play an important role in seeing sexting come to an end.
This editorial represents the views of the editorial board.