Sexting is the latest phenomenon getting teenagers into trouble. It can lead to shame, humiliation,
cyberstalking, bullying, felony criminal charges, sex-offender registration and even suicide. Sexting involves sending lewd text or pictures electronically to someone over a mobile phone or computer. Sexting often starts with a teenage girl sending a nude or semi-nude picture of herself to a boyfriend. Once the relationship sours, the boyfriend sends the picture on to friends, causing the girl to experience humiliation and unwanted advances. As with anything transmitted online, once a lewd photograph is released into the wild, there is very little chance of stemming its viral dissemination.
The punishment for sexting depends on the age of the victim. If the pictures are of someone over 18, the person resending the pictures typically is not violating any laws, leaving the victim essentially helpless. If the pictures are of someone under eighteen, however, anyone possessing and/or resending the pictures may be subject to felony criminal charges and/or registration as a sex offender for child pornography.
Bigger Than You Might Think
Recent studies have shown up to 20 percent of teens have engaged in sexting and up to 40 percent have been asked to send nude photos of themselves. As with many things, teenagers often to appreciate the full ramifications of sexting until it is too late. Ramifications include imprisonment and even suicide. The key is educating teenagers before a problem arises.
Who Is At Risk
Any child with access to a digital camera or cell phone should be warned about the ramifications of not just sexting, but of sending anything online they would not be comfortable sharing with their parents. Things they post today can come back to haunt them years, or even decades down the line. It may get them bullied, fired, imprisoned or worse. Even if your child does nothing but receive an inappropriate message sent by someone else, they may be charged with child pornography.
Talk To Your Children
Advise your child early of the problems and the lifetime consequences of such behavior. When it comes to sexting, an ounce of prevention is worth several tons of cure.