Teen ‘Sexting’ Could Label Them Sex Offenders for Life

September 1, 2009 at 6:00 am 3 comments

Although we’ve discussed “sexting,” the practice of sending sexually explicit images through cell phones, before, it’s an issue that bears repeating multiple times and something that parents need to discuss with their teens.

Sexting Laws

A recent article posted at eAdvocate warns of the dangers that teens may fall into if they either send or receive sexually explicit images through their phone. For example, some states are making sexting between teens a misdemeanor; however, many state laws consider the possession or transmission of sexual images of teens, between teens punishable under child pornography laws—even if the one sending the material is a teen.

As a result, under current laws, if your teen takes a nude or semi-nude picture of him or herself and sends it to anyone, they could be tried and convicted of felony distribution of child pornography. As well, if your teen receives nude or semi-nude pictures of other teens, he or she could be charged with felony possession of child pornography. Either offense could require your teen to register as a sex offender and abide by state sex offender regulations, including residency restriction laws.

Teen Sexting is Not Harmless

Although some think that sexting is harmless—akin to finding a skin magazine under your teen’s mattress—the effects of sexting are extremely far-reaching. Images sent by phone can immediately be forwarded on to hundreds or thousands of individuals. In fact, one quarter of the 2,100 children identified as victims of online pornography sent the original image themselves (according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children). That original image was then taken, forwarded, uploaded, and posted for hosts of other people to see.

What Sexting Means for Parents

Communication is the first line of defense. Talk to your teens about the potential dangers of sexting, warn them about the far-reaching effects one sexually-explicit image of themselves or one of their peers can have, including prosecution, humiliation, and registering as a sex offender.

Second, their phones are your phones. Check their text messages and images on a regular basis. They may see it as an invasion of privacy, but your phone policing can keep them honest and out of trouble. Or course, your actions should all be based on what will work best for you are your teen.

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. greg  |  September 2, 2009 at 5:46 am

    Sexting should have no effect on our children. Our government says that any one under 18 has any sexual desires and is not interested in sex.
    AT LEAST THATS WHAT THEY ARE TRYING TO TELL US WITH ALL THESE OTHER LAWS THEY PASS. Why shouldn’t we believe them after all we elected them ans now they dictate to us whats best.

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  • 3. Stepin  |  September 2, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    People, who want to make laws to prevent something from going on, still have not learned that the law will not stop any thing. All that can and will do is condemn are teens who just may be smarter and more advanced then we are (the ones who want to make laws) in the way they think. When it comes to SEX, America failed big time when compared with other countries. Example if two men are seen kissing in America (the land of the free) we label them “GAY”, but in the UK men kiss and the people don’t mind at all. Russia allows teen nudist camps, the teens that grow up in this environment have more responsibly when it come to having sex, children and marriage then Americans can even think about. Americans can’t make up are minds about thing like abortion or pro life. May be if we were to change the way we think about sex some of the issues we have about sex just might go away with out making any laws. May be we should think about this before we “tell” are teens what’s ok and not ok. I won’t say it is ok or a good thing to send nude pictures over the phone because you don’t who gets the pictures. Adults are pay over a trillion bucks a year on videos sent over the internet and cable or satellite, but we all think its wrong.


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