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The Law Blogger is a law-related blog that informs and discusses current matters of legal interest to readers of The Oakland Press and to consumers of legal services in the community. We hope readers will  find it entertaining but also informative. The Law Blogger does not, however, impart legal advice, as only attorneys are licensed to provide legal counsel.
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Friday, December 12, 2014

Oakland County Prosecutor Addresses Digital Danger With Middle School Students

Yesterday, Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper addressed the students of Clifford Smart Middle School in Commerce Township about the dangers of social media and potential criminal liability for conduct involving the transmission of naked images through the Internet.  The presentation was part of the ongoing Educating Our Youth initiative at the prosecutor's office.

The prosecutor warned the students that nothing is ever deleted once posted to the Internet via social media.  She also advised that the hard drive of a computer can be seized by law enforcement and explained the trove of information that resides on such devices.

The wide-ranging talk covered sexting, how to exercise proper caution when online, and the recent case in Brandon where a student hacked into an after-school app to post violent threats that included references to the Colombine massacre.  Often, coming of age in the post-modern world now involves facing certain digital realities.

With a compelling digital backdrop for her presentation, the primary thrust of Jessica Cooper's address to the middle school students was the dangers of sexting one another.  She warned students of the serious felonies of: possession, distribution and solicitation of child sexually explicit materials and the steep penalties those convicted could face.  She cautioned students that deleting such images does not make the problem go away.

Recently, Cooper's office has exercised its prosecutorial discretion to bring charges against a large group of middle school and high school students in Rochester Hills.  The students were sending nude images of themselves to one another through their cell phones.

No one wants to witness the witch-hunt that could result from mass prosecutions of teenagers; that was not the point of Cooper's message.  Rather, the digital youth culture needs to scale back some of its reckless nubile abandon in our digital age.

We here at the Law Blogger applaud the prosecutor's efforts in the Educating Our Youth initiative.  With an overburdened schedule, Madame Prosecutor is finding the time to personally take her serious message to the youth who need to hear it the most.

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