I am a 17-year-old female and I have a concern. I have been in a relationship with a young man for the last two years. I recently decided that I was ready to move the relationship to the next level, and so we engaged in safe sex. My issue is this: I did not realise that one of the intimate sessions was being videotaped. My ‘boyfriend’ is now suggesting that we publish this amateur video and earn money from it. I am terrified of this kind of exposure and would like to keep this a private matter. He even went as far as to identify persons (TV stars) who have made money from doing this very same thing. I am anxiously awaiting your advice.
Dear Terrified Teen,
This is a developing phenomenon in today’s society. Many young persons have lost their privacy, and their reputations have been destroyed through social media. Legally, you made a choice that is well within your rights so to do. At 17, you are allowed to make a sexual decision without legal implications. I must commend you for practising safe sex. Protecting yourself from sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancy is very important.
With regard to your being videotaped without your knowledge, that is another matter ... with legal implications. It is quite possible that your boyfriend could make money from publishing this video, but illegally. However, the ‘sale’ of this video with or without your consent will be an issue. You are still classified as a minor, as you are under 18 years old. According to the Child Pornography (Prevention) Act 2.41, ‘child’ means “a male or female person under the age of eighteen years; a person who commits an offence under this section is liable, on conviction on indictment before a Circuit Court, to a fine or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fifteen years, or to both such fine and imprisonment”. The law is very strict as it relates to pornography and minors. In this act, distributing child pornography includes selling it or publishing it in any form.
I can understand that this exposure will impact both your lives. Sex is personal and private, and the public exposure has both legal and social implications. You are terrified of this exposure and I hope that your boyfriend is able to see your point of view and value your need for privacy over the pull of profit, and promptly delete and/or dispose of this or any other material with sexual content with you or anyone under 18 years old. The Child Pornography Act further states that “no person shall be liable for an offence under this section if that person shows that – (they) took reasonable steps to avoid, remove or destroy the child pornography”. Please ask your boyfriend to think carefully of the implications and how this will affect you both. You did not say, but it is quite possible that you are both either sixth-form or first-year tertiary-level youths who should have a plan for the future that entails a career with income-earning potential, without having to exploit your sexual activities for profit.
Let me hope that good sense prevails in this situation.
Dr Karelle Hytlon, PhD Counselling Psychologist firstname.lastname@example.org