Children need to know there are consequences

It seems obvious from events in Ohio that some teenagers do not understand the ramifications of modern technology and communications media. They seem to view text and picture messaging by cell phone and Internet as exceptions to rules governing many other modes of exchanging information.

In some situations, it seems attitudes toward such communications have dulled teens’ moral values.

Crimes committed by two high school students who raped a fellow teen last August were despicable enough on their own. The two boys will pay for their offenses, a judge recently ruled. But what happened during, immediately after and in the months following the assault has been in a separate category of offensiveness – and hazard to the teens involved.

Exchanges via cell phone of pictures of the rape victim, sometimes even as she was being assaulted, occurred several times. A video of a young man discussing the crime in disturbingly crude, unfeeling detail circulated on the Internet. Text messages were sent, describing what happened and sometimes boasting of what was done to the victim.

Then Steubenville, Ohio, police arrested two teen girls for allegedly threatening the rape victim through social media.

Would the communications described above have occurred had the vehicles for them been voice phone calls, letters or printed photographs? Probably not. But something about certain modern technologies has affected the judgment of some people. In some cases, it also seems to have dulled their senses of right and wrong.

Moral values must be instilled beginning at an early age by parents, guardians and others able to influence children. But recognizing the potential ramifications of communications, by whatever method, is a matter of education. Someone – parents or schools – has to inform kids.