After Steubenville

    Sexting Suicides: New Laws Needed

    How the justice system needs to catch up to deal with the sad cases of Rehtaeh and Audrie.

    This week we’ve been inundated with the sad, sad stories of Rehtaeh Parsons and Audrie Pott, two teens who killed themselves—Parsons, earlier this week; Pott, seven months ago—after photos of alleged sexual attacks on the girls circulated online. While Canada is calling Parsons’ suicide its “Steubenville,” news came from San Jose, CA that police had finally arrested three 16-year-old boys in connection with the Pott case.

    Writing for Slate, Emily Bazelon tries to get at the thorny problems that converge in these cases: of teen sexting, of evidence in rape allegations—“especially among people who know each other and when drinking or drugs are involved”—and of the current laws on the books to deal with perpetrators. As she notes, “the circulation of the compromising photos…created a trail of digital evidence. In light of that, we should have a clear way to bring charges against the instigators—a way that recognizes that the boys involved were teenagers, not adults.”