Sexting, the latest trend among teens that is getting a lot of media attention and rightly so. If your teenager has a cell phone you might be wise to check what they are texting. Today, one in five teens is sending nude or semi-nude photos of themselves to friends. Girls in particular are being asked by their boyfriends (and in some cases predators) to send nude photos. This has become a major problem that has led to the suicide of several young female teens because they, at the time, thought the photos would only be viewed by their boyfriends.
Some of you may know the story of Jesse Logan, an 18 year old that sent nude photos to her boyfriend. When they broke up, he sent the photos to other girls at their high school. Jesse then became a victim of bulling and harassment; other girls called her a slut and a whore in her school. Jesse started skipping classes and eventually couldn’t take it anymore and hung herself.
“The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy surveyed teens and young adults about Sexting — sending sexually charged material via cell phone text messages — or posting such materials online. The results revealed that 39 percent of teens are sending or posting sexually suggestive messages, and 48 percent reported receiving such messages.”
Not only have teens committed suicide, but also what most teens and parents don’t know is that ‘Sexting’ is a felony and teens can be prosecuted and convicted as a sex offender ruining their lives forever. Because this has become so pervasive, many states are carefully reviewing how to handle these cases. Some states are looking to reduce the penalty for this criminal act – while others are prosecuting teens as sex offenders resulting in a felony conviction and a lifetime stigma for something that could have been easily prevented.
However, the fact remains that sending nude photos over cell phones and the Internet is a crime and the consequences are permanent. Even if they are not prosecuted, they are likely to be harassed or become victims of various types of cyber bulling and cyber harassment.
The video sheds more light on this issue and the broadcaster discusses the danger and damaging effects of Sexting to individuals, their families and the legal repercussions.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of America says that in the past year, approximately one in three teens has been harassed online and 32 percent clear their browser history to hide what they do online from their parents.
We need to be careful not to think ‘this can’t happen to my child’ because any teen is likely to get involved. It’s natural for teens to be sexually intrigued with access to nude photos or for that matter pornography. It’s a parent’s job to help their kid’s understand the boundaries they need to stay within with today’s technology.
It’s time for parents to be pro-active and not afraid or feel they are ‘spying’ on their children if they check what is being sent via text and email. It’s time for parents who think their children are using cell phones and the Internet inappropriately to take action and talk to the kids about their behavior and the dangerous impact it can have on their lives.
Parents need to need to know and understand today’s technologies and keep up to date with the latest trends so they can ensure their children are protected and understand the dangers of certain online behavior and actions.
What you can do?
To begin, keep a lookout for situations, TV shows, or news items about Sexting. Use these as a chance to talk about it with your child. Don’t wait for your child to send, ask for, or receive pictures—this is too late! When your child has a cell phone, and is beginning it show an interest in the opposite sex, it is time to start talking about it. However, one conversation isn’t enough—you will need to have ‘booster’ chats, as your child gets older. Include the following four points:
• Sending sexual suggestive photos over the Internet and cell phone is illegal and in many states, teens have been arrested for sending pictures of themselves or others.
• Anything sent via cell phone or on the Internet is there forever! They can will NEVER get it back— if they sent a naked photo of themselves – it will be available to anyone and can be use to harass and bully them for life.
• Theses photos can be morphed by others and posted to YouTube, Facebook, and other social networking site for all to see.
• Remind them that many colleges, universities and employers are now asking for applicant’s social networking profile as a screening tool. If inappropriate material has been posted, they will lose their chance of entrance to a school of their choice as well as employment.
• Tell them that if they receive a sexual photo they should never forward it to anyone, as this is a crime and can be cause for charges of child pornography. Tell them to delete the email or text and talk to you or another adult.
• Consider purchasing cell/mobile phone monitoring software. In today’s digital age, parent’s have a responsibility to know what their children are doing electronically. Especially if what they do could ruin their lives and they could wind up convicted as a sexual predator – damaging their lives forever.
Remember – Sexting is Illegal!