A “Minor” Issue?

November 3, 2008

About seven months ago a 16-year-old girl from my hometown and my high school alma mater was brutally stabbed to death in her home.

A few weeks ago police arrested a suspect, Ryan Barnes of Portsmouth Va.

He is 17-years-old.

The problem with this isn’t that he was arrested for being a minor, if he is the lead suspect, then he should get arrested. The problem I see with this is that his name and information is being exploited through different media like the Web and television.

In one particular online article, the reporter included a link to Barnes’s MySpace page and YouTube page.

I understand that when you sign up to have a MySpace or YouTube page, you are agreeing that it is available to the public, but it seems to me that boundaries should be marked for the media in what they may publish.

Barnes is still in high school and isn’t even legal yet. Should there be a privacy issue regarding this?

Not only is he still a minor, but he hasn’t even been found guilty yet, he is only a suspect and could be innocent as far as anyone knows. This could particular ruin his young adult life.

If you were the minor’s parents wouldn’t you be heart broken to know that your child’s information was thrown all over the Web for everyone to see, and not only that but leave him vulnerable to hate mail and endless cyber-stalking?

Minors should not be exploited by the media, especially by ways of social networking websites, where everyone is welcome to read and view private aspects of their lives, and then respond to them by ways of mail messages.

If a news medium believes they have a just cause for providing this private information besides an easy way of cyber-stalking, they should include it in their story .

“Because it’s available,” is not an excuse.

Read the Barnes article here


One Response to “A “Minor” Issue?”

  1. jennbmackay Says:

    It’s an ethical issue. Since you are talking about a brutal crime, the media is generally going to release the information. I have mixed feeling about it, though. If my kid went to school with this guy, I would want his name the minute he was arrested, but you raise an important point. What if he didn’t do it?

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