“Sexting” is generally referred to as a teen or young adult sharing nude photos or lewd text on mobile phones or through online chat. The practice can have legal and physiological consequences as well as long term damage for careers and family later in life.
Sexting is illegal! Don’t take or send nude or sexually suggestive photos of yourself or anyone else including sexually suggestive text messages. By doing this or passing on someone else’s photos or texts you run the risk of being charged with child pornography. If you keep these messages on your cell phone or computer you could be charged with possession of child pornography. If the messages are sent across state boundaries this becomes a federal offence which generally carries greater penalties in court.
There are also non legal consequences of such behaviour. Emotional damage as well as dame to one’s reputation is common. Friendships aren’t often lasting so by sharing intimate photos and text with a friend you have no control of what happens to this information if the friendship ends. These messages can be transmitted and shared with many people or put on the internet as a permanent record. Once this occurs it will be practically impossible to undo the damage to reputation or remove all traces of the personal data.
There are many causes for sexting and this behaviour usually is a result of peer pressure (a form of cyber bullying) or pressure from a boyfriend / girlfriend. Sometimes it can be an impulsive behaviour, flirting or even blackmail. It is always a bad idea to partake in this behaviour.
Parents need to talk with their children about sexting to determine what their child knows about it and also to inform them of the potential consequences of sharing this kind of intimate information. Parents need to express how they feel in a conversational, non-confrontational way. A two-way dialog can go a long way toward helping your kids understand how to minimize legal, social and reputation risks.
Stay alert when using digital media and sharing information. People aren’t always who they seem to be and sometimes changes in circumstance can lead to embarrassing and damaging consequences. Critical thinking about what we upload as well as download is the best protection.
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