Is MTV's 'Skins' Straddling Child Pornography Laws?

Filed under: In The News, Sex, Teen Culture

James Newman portrays Tony, right, and Sofia Black-D'Elia portrays Tea, in a scene from the adolescent drama "Skins," on MTV. Credit: AP Photo/MTV

Although the British seem to do it better, we copy it just as well -- and in this case, a little too well. With the latest Brit TV series, 'Skins,' making it across the pond and landing on MTV, Americans are getting more than an eyeful of gratuitous teenage sexuality in all of its glory.

But American teens better TiVo the first two episodes before network execs force producers to tone down the heavy petting and nudity. The show has been labeled by some -- including The New York Times -- as a flagrant display of child pornography.

Featuring scenes that simulate masturbation, sex and drug use, it sounds like just another day at the 'Jersey Shore.' But MTV's other scandal-saturated reality shows all feature actors/reality stars who are at least 18 years old. 'Skins' boasts a bevy of fresh-faced actors, some as young as 15.

The third episode, set to debut on Jan. 31, follows Chris, played by Jesse Carere, who, after experimenting with erectile dysfunction pills, runs down the street naked, exposing his 17-year-old bum. The episode spawned a vehement reaction from the Parents Television Council, who called the show the "most dangerous program that has ever been foisted on your children." Now it's set to be toned down before it airs.

'Skins' carries a rating of TV-MA (meant for those above 17 years old) and scored killer ratings with its premiere episode, but the Times cites analysts saying at least 1 million of the new 'Skins' enthusiast viewers were under 17.

With allegations of violating child pornography statutes, it seems as though the notoriously envelope-pushing network will not be able to keep up with the show's original plot lines (the premiere American episode was almost identical to its British original) that British audiences enjoyed. The U.K. is famously more accepting of televised eroticism.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.