Sexting – is your child doing it?

Sexting, or sexual texting, has become a huge thing with the modern world. What grown adults of legal age do in their own time is their business, unless its with a minor.

Recently, there have been numerous scandals across the United States involving minors and sexting. Some involve people of note such as Anthony Weiner who was caught having a sexting relationship with an underage teen.

In recent months, there have been numerous scandals involving high schools across the country.

Newtown High school students charged in sexting ring

20 current, former students charged after Holmes County high school sexting scandal

Police investigate sexting scandal at 2 Suffield schools

Students at Boiling Springs High School facing charges for sexting

These are all recent events where students were charged with crimes due to the texting. Wait, arrested and charged with a  crime for simply texting? What was the crime? Possession of child pornography. The law doesn’t distinguish between taking a picture of yourself or someone else. If the subject of the picture was under the age of 18, then the picture is child pornography. So it means if your underage child takes a nude picture of herself, the photo of herself on her own phone then becomes a felony crime of possession of child pornography.  The crime becomes even more serious when your child then shares the picture with others. Then they are also now in possession of child pornography.

Children need to be taught how serious this is. I won’t go into the moral implications of this. That isn’t the purpose of this article. This is simply about the legal dangers of using technology in an inappropriate way. Children need to be taught about just how serious of crime this. The four links above show that children can, and do, get in trouble for sexting. Once a picture leaves your phone, you have no control over where it goes and who sees it. Eventually it will find its way to someone who will report it. It also doesn’t matter if the person is now of legal age. If they weren’t when the picture was taken, then its still a crime.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has a nice page for talking to your kids about the dangers of social media and sexting. You can read it here.

The page cites a survey that was done recently and found that 20% of all teens had already sexted and sent inappropriate pictures. That’s quite a bit of crimes being committed out there.

Reach out to your kids before they get caught up in this and end up on a sex offender’s list for what they probably think is a harmless event in their lives.

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