Sexting

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WHAT IS SEXTING?

  • Sexting: is any sending, receiving, or possession of nude or semi-nude pictures on your cell phone is considered sex-ting.
  • If teens are caught with any form of sexting material on their cell phone:
  • They could be charged with child pornography.
  • They may have to register as a sex offender.
  • This information could stay on their permanent record.

SEXTING COULD BE PROSECUTED AS A STATE OR FEDERAL FELONY.

Currently if prosecutors file charges on teens for sexting, they
must also file felony offense.

A bill approved June 29, 2010 by the house would establish different
levels of severity for criminal charges that can be filed against
teens younger than 18 accused of sexting. This bill passed in the
house, 163-36, and now will move to the senate. The proposed charges: misdemeanor or felony would depend on the circumstances and the number of participants.

WHAT ARE SOME REASONS TEENS DO SEXTING?

Some teens are responding to peer pressure or pressure from a boyfriend or girlfriend or some teens consider sexting to be a sexy, funny or flirtatious message they send to a boyfriend or girlfriend. Then they break up and sometimes those pictures get sent around out of revenge

Most teens think that sexting is no big deal because it has now become such a common thing.

With today’s technology a nude photo can be mass distributed in
a matter of minutes.

This can happen as a forward on a cell phone.

Once the photo is put into a computer there are countless
other ways that the photo can be spread to countless people and countless places. Forwarding nude photos is a charge of
distribution of child pornography no matter what the age of
the person doing the distributing.

TIPS FOR PARENTS ABOUT SEXTING:

Not letting your teen take part in sexting is the number one
prevention.

SO, HOW DO I PREVENT MY TEEN FROM SEXTING?

Just as you need to talk openly and honestly with your teen about real life sex and relationships, you also want to discuss cell phone activity. It is important to sit down and talk to your teen about sexting in a relaxed setting. Ask your teen what they know about it, they may not have heard the term of sexting, so use naked photo sharing as a term if needed. Express how you are feeling in the conversation, but not in a confrontational way. A two-way dialog can go a long way toward helping your teen to understand. Make sure your teen fully understands that messages or pictures they send on their cell phone are not truly private or anonymous. Also make sure they know that others might forward their pictures or messages to people they do not know or want to see them. Let your teen know the ramifications of sexting. Tell your teen about legal ramifications as well as personal ones. Some personal ramifications: (these maybe more real to your teen) social fallout from sexting. There are already cases of teens being caught sexting that have been suspended from school activities. They could be suspended from cheerleading, football, the debate team or any activity they may participate in. They could lose friends since other parents may forbid their teen from hanging out with someone who is caught sexting. This could also follow them for the rest of their lives when colleges and potential employers find the pictures posted online.

Some important communication tips

  • Do NOT alarm your teen by over reacting. If you over react your teen will clam up or be afraid to talk to you about it.
  • DO let your teen know that the lines of communication are open.
  • DO tell your teen that you are there to help them, not just to punish them.
  • DO NOT stay quiet, staying quiet could ruin your teen’s life.

Know who your teen is communicating with.

Know who your teen is spending time with when they leave the house and who they are talking to or texting on their cell phone. Check your teen’s phone, check your cell phone bill online to see what phone numbers are on your teen’s cell phone, most newer phones have a GPS tracking (your teen’s physical location), check with your cell phone company to see if this is an option on your teen’s phone, know who your teen’s friends are and get to know their friends’ family, and keep the lines of communication open between you and your teen by spending quality time with your teen.

Consider limitations on electronic communication:

The days of having to talk on the phone in the kitchen in front of the whole family are long gone, but you can still limit the time your teen spends on their cell phone, tell your teen to leave the phone on the kitchen counter when they are at home, set your child’s phone so they cannot receive text messages or internet access or set a limit on when the phone calls and text messages can be received, for example; no texting at the dinner table or after 10:00pm. Make sure you are clear with your teen about cell phone expectations and what the consequences are. Set consequences for your teen not following cell phone expectations just like you would with any form of discipline. Then be sure to follow through by checking your teen’s phone or your cell phone bill online.