Scary Trends: Ben and Brian

Busted and Threatened with Charges

Dr. Phil asks Lisa, "What do you think about a situation here, where a young man receives a picture and then decides to go share it with some of his buddies?"

"It's definitely a violation of the girl's privacy, it's harassment, and it's subjecting her to humiliation. In my view, there's no question there have to be consequences," she says. "The only question is: do we throw him in prison and label him as a sex offender? I think that is entirely the wrong approach. I would like to see his parents come down hard on him. I would like to see the school come down hard on him and maybe require him to get some counseling and some education so this never happens again."

Dr. Phil says to Ben's father, Brian, "You fought very hard for Ben to not be prosecuted. What do you think of the behavior that he did by sharing this picture with others?"

"We know it was the wrong thing that the kids did, but these are 13-year-old kids with a 13-year-old mentality," he says.

Dr. Phil addresses Ben. "You said, ‘I wasn't thinking, and I sent it to another friend,'" he says. "What do you mean you weren't thinking?"

[AD]"At the time, I just didn't really know it could get this serious," the now 14-year-old says.

"Did you ever think about how embarrassing or humiliating it might be to that young woman to be broadcasting this picture around?" Dr. Phil asks.

"No. I didn't really think at the time. I just thought it was just a picture and maybe a little joke," he says.

"What do you think about that now?" Dr. Phil probes.

"It was definitely the wrong thing to do, because it could jeopardize my future and humiliate her a lot," he says.

Dr. Phil asks Brian, "Have there been any consequences for your son for doing this?"

"Yes. He's been grounded, and we've talked about a lot of things. He's watched what I've gone through myself. I've been humiliated," he says, noting that he didn't want these kids to have charges brought against them, and that's why he stood up for them.

"If I were in your shoes, I would have done exactly the same thing that you've done," Dr. Phil tells Brian. "I don't want to ruin a young man's life over something that we all agree was a stupid thing to do. I'm not trying to be ugly about it, but it was insensitive, it was hurtful, it was stupid, but this is not something that I think you should go to prison for. I don't think it's something where you should be labeled a sex offender."

[AD]Lisa agrees and explains that when a person is listed on a sex-offender registry, if a child goes missing in their area, the police visit them. "If we start including on the sex-offender rolls people like Ben, kids who do stupid things with their cell phones, we're slowing down legitimate investigations," she says. "Do we really think Ben, in 30 years, should have to call the police and report when he moves from point A to point B? That's insane. He's a 13-year-old child. He made a big mistake. By coming on your show I think he's owning up to it, and good for him, and I think that should be end the end of it."

Dr. Phil agrees. "Ben, you made a bad decision, and I think you get that, right?"

 

"Yes," he says.

"You're not going to do this again, right?" Dr. Phil asks the boy.

"Never," he says.

[AD]"We want the word to get out there to all parents and everybody who sells a cell phone about what really can happen by a push of a button," Brian says.

 

"You made a comment that you think there ought to be warnings in cell phones when you give them to a kid that explains this, and they have to let their parents know that they understand that. I think that's a really, really good idea, and I'm glad that you brought it up," Dr. Phil says to Brian. Addressing Ben, Dr. Phil says, "I really acknowledge you for coming on and being vocal about the mistake you made."