By Sarah Penn
Wyoming State Representative
House District 33
Public libraries across Wyoming are encouraging children to engage in criminal conduct.
It is a federal crime to possess any photograph of a naked child. The state of Wyoming likewise makes mere possession of such images a crime, regardless of consent.
Teachers in Wyoming high schools are required to begin every semester with a serious discussion of the ramifications of possessing, distributing, or creating any such images, complete with references to the Department of Justice’s website on the consequences of this behavior. High school students easily understand the gravity of the issue. While extremely weighty, the concept is simple: It’s a crime to engage in sexting as a minor.
Why then, do adults in positions of leadership not understand it’s a problem for public libraries to promote materials to children that condone the possession and distribution of illegal child pornography? Local media exposed some of the disturbing content from the book “Let’s Talk About It: The Teen’s Guide to Sex, Relationships, and Being a Human.”
This book’s authors tell minors – their target audience – that sending sexually explicit images via cellphone is fine so long as it’s consensual and personally identifying characteristics are edited out. This is simply not true. Any depiction of a minor under 18 years of age engaging in sexually explicit conduct is illegal.
It is not “pearl clutching” to believe that minors should not be encouraged by a book in their school library to send photographs of their genitals to other minors. It is not “book burning” to believe that graphic, sexually explicit content does not belong on a public library shelf in the children’s section.
Those who seek to keep this content away from children are not prudes, Nazis, or ignorant zealots. There are real harms that come from exposing children to overtly sexual content and behavior at a young age, including increased susceptibility for future victimization and perpetration of violent crimes.
According to the CDC (the recently anointed god of the American Left), childhood risk factors for future sexual violence include early sexual initiation, exposure to sexually explicit media, and preferences for impersonal sex and sexual risk-taking – all of which are openly encouraged by the authors of “Let’s Talk About It.”
We should all ask ourselves why some adults so desperately want this content before the eyes of children. If you write openly about the “hot, young blood” of children making them “horny,” you are part of the problem.