What is Sexting? ‘Sexting’ is where a person takes a sexually-explicit digital photograph of him or herself or of someone else, and sends it as an MMS and SMS via a mobile phone. These images can then be posted on the internet or forwarded electronically to other people. Once posted on the internet these images can leave a permanent digital footprint and be accessed at any time in the future. It is illegal to take sexual photos or videos of children and young people.[i]
It seems like teens still haven’t learned what the consequences are for taking, sending or saving nude or semi-nude photos. Phillip Alpert angry with his girlfriend about their breakup decided to send nude photos of her to his friends, her friends and her family. Unfortunately, for him this lead to him being arrested and charged with “distributing child pornography”.
Phillip realizes he made a major mistake that would ruin his life forever. While he angry with his high school girlfriend – he claims he was “It was a stupid thing I did because I was upset and tired and it was the middle of the night and I was an immature kid,”
Unfortunately, for him, the Orlando, Florida, police had a different view of his actions. He was arrested and charged with the distribution of child pornography, a felony for which was convicted. This resulted in five years’ probation; he was required to register on the public sex-offender list, which lists his all of his personal information that is readily available to anyone and everyone. He is required to wear an electronic bracelet, check with his probation officer before he leaves his home, and is finding it difficult to find a job or go to college. He will remain on the sexual offender registry until he reaches at least the age of 43 and he is required to attend weekly sex-offender re-education classes for five years. Alpert learned that sexting has very real consequences, ones that he could never have imagined.
Let’s understand what the consequences are: if images are taken of someone under the age of 18 it constitutes child pornography, if a picture is taken the person can be accused of producing child pornography; if it’s sent to someone, they can be accused of distributing child pornography; and if they keep a picture, they be accused of possessing child pornography,” Conducting any of the above and teens can be charged and convicted as a registered sex offender.
Parents need to understand the dangers kids face using today’s technology and need to educate their children about the severe consequences of taking, keeping and sending nude photos.