Rattled by “sexting” resorted to by teenagers, Chandigarh police have sounded a note of caution to parents to ensure that their wards are not hauled up for keeping or viewing lewd pictures on their mobile phones and other electronic gadgets.
In a first, UT police on Saturday sent out a warning to members of the public through bulk short message service (SMS) on their mobile phones. “Parents do keep a watch on your children aged between 15 and 18. Exchanging lewd pics/multimedia messaging service in peer groups is a criminal offence,” said the message.
UT inspector general of police RP Upadhayaya said that police action comes in the wake of amendments under the 2013 Criminal Law Amendment Ordinance. He said that an attempt was made to generate awareness among parents and teenagers through SMS messages, since keeping vulgar pictures was a cognizable offence, inviting criminal action. Downloading pornographic pictures is also liable for punishment.
Welcoming the decision, CBSE counsellor Rakesh Sachdeva, Principal of DAV School in Sector 15, said that the police move would go a long way in ensuring that the parents were more vigilant about the activities of their children. She said that the need for proposed action was felt since long as youngsters had easy access to Internet. Children should be properly guided to use the technology judiciously, Sachdeva maintained.
What provoked police to use SMS
The immediate provocation for the issuance of SMS warning by Chandigarh police regarding teenagers viewing pornographic pictures and videos was the recent case of sharing of pornographic photos among minor children.
A senior police officer, on the condition of anonymity, said that they had received a complaint about a minor boy who had allegedly stored a dozen odd pornographic photographs on his mobile phone and shared it with his friends. In fact, a minor girl from Dehradun had shared her obscene picture with a male friend in Panchkula, who in turn circulated the photo to at least 20 friends. Chandigarh police summoned the minor boys studying in Class 9 and 10 for counselling after the girl's parents approached the police. However, police did not register a case since the girl's parents did not want criminal proceedings in the matter.
Arti Malhotra, teacher, Saupin's School, Chandigarh
First, sharing of lewd messages is highly unacceptable; parents and teachers always need to keep a check on such activities of children. Monitoring their behavior and mobile phones would be the best thing to do. But, making it a criminal offence is too far- fetched, as these things are done out of curiosity by the children. Punishment which is not too severe is fine, but making it criminal offence would be too much since it would sabotage their career.
Sargun Kaur, student
We are given mobile phones by our parents for our own safety, rather than for exchanging lewd MMSes or photos. But, this practice is prevalent among most students, both boys and girls. We ought to have a sense of responsibility because we need to respect the freedom given to us by parents. I think that making it a criminal offense is a good decision.
Manoj Malhotra, parent
It is the responsibility of the parents to keep track of their children. A regular check on their cell phones also is their responsibility. It is not a question of questioning the trust reposed in the children but it is a responsibility. Moreover, each and every parent should talk to their children and interact openly and answer all their questions since they get curious at a certain age. That is the time they visit pornographic sites or indulge in sending out MMSes. Rather than making it a criminal offence, the age for juvenile criminals should be lowered to 15 years.
What is sexting?
Sexting is the act of sending sexually explicit messages and/or photographs, primarily between mobile phones. The term was first popularised in early 21st century, and is a portmanteau of sex and texting, where the latter is meant in the wide sense of sending a text possibly with images. (Source: Wikipedia)