Amber Cole Isn't the One Who Needs to Be Ashamed

October 31, 2011


Three years ago, the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy together with Cosmo surveyed teens and young adults about sending or posting sexually suggestive texts and images. The survey reported that 20% of teens--and 33% of young adults--said they had sent or posted nude or semi-nude pictures or videos of themselves. Proportions of those sending or posting sexually suggestive messages were even higher.

Now, we have a case of someone posting a sexual video of someone else. Baltimore news organizations report that a 14-year-old girl was videotaped on city school grounds performing oral sex on her ex-boyfriend. The video was put up on the Internet, by whom it's not clear and apparently without the girl's approval, and quickly went viral. It stayed up for four days on YouTube and Facebook and became a trending topic on Twitter.

The video called the girl Amber Cole, not her real name, according to police. Her father--not identified by name--was quoted as saying his daughter was forced to do what she did and did not know she was being taped. "She was bullied, harassed into doing this," he told WJZ-TV, the CBS affiliate in Baltimore. He later reported that his daughter had transferred to another school.

The incident itself is bad enough, but the online response has been extremely disturbing, if not racist and misogynistic, as several bloggers have pointed out.

WJZ was the first to report the incident, as well as a second event involving three young people having sex in a school auditorium in Baltimore County. That incident also was videotaped and shared, police investigators are quoted as saying.

Today you can hear a discussion about the Amber Cole story on NPR's "Tell Me More" with Michel Martin. The show airs twice, from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. and again at 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. For more details, check out NPR's website.

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