Consequence of Sexting and Tips to Prevent Sexting

by on March 25th, 2010

Sexting fall into the category of cyberethics. Sexting refers to teens sharing nude photos via cellphone or email, but it’s happening on other devices and the Web too at global level. The practice can have serious legal and psychological consequences. Sexting is not a new behavior; it is one that is accelerated by technology. As smart phones become more robust with the addition of cameras, video and internet capabilities, it’s easier to capture all manner of images and with a couple of quick clicks share them with another person or a group of people. As fast as technology changes and infuses our lives, laws and polices take a long time to catch up. In the case of sexting, when young people share intimate photos of others to embarrass, retaliate, or bully there had been no legal framework developed specifically to address the behavior. Law enforcement and prosecutors, left with few choices, have prosecuted for the distribution of child pornography for the sharing of images if people under the age of 18. If convicted, this could mean serving time in prison (5 years) and being registered as a sex offender for life.

In one case, a school administrator in Virginia was arrested and charged with possession of child pornography when in addressing a disciplinary problem in the school that involved a suggestive picture that was being sent around, he asked a student to send the picture to his phone and then put it on his computer. Technically this was a crime; it took more than a year, significant legal fees, and the near ruin of a person’s career.

States are starting to look at the sharing of picture between consenting young people and differentiating those from cases from other offenses. A teenager who passes the photograph on to friends could face a felony child pornography charge and five years in prison.

Teens and adults, please consider these tips to prevent and stop sexting!

Sexting is illegal

Don’t take or send nude or sexually suggestive photos of yourself or anyone else. If you do, even if they’re of you or you pass along someone else’s – you could be charged with producing or distributing child pornography. If you keep them on your phone or computer you could be charged with possession. If they go to someone in another state, it’s a federal felony.

Consequences

Then there’s the emotional (and reputation) damage that can come from having intimate photos of yourself go to a friend who can become an ex-friend and send it to everyone you know. Not only can they be sent around; they can be distributed and archived online for people to search for pretty much forever.

Not just on Cell Phones

Sexting can be done on any media-sharing device or technology – including email and the Web. Teens have been convicted for child porn distribution for emailing sexually explicit photos to each other.

Many Causes

In some cases, kids are responding to peer pressure in a form of cyberbullying or pressure from a boyfriend or girlfriend (they break up, and sometimes those photos get sent around out of revenge). Sometimes it’s impulsive behavior, flirting, or even blackmail. It’s always a bad idea.

What to Do?

Stay alert when using digital media. People aren’t always who they seem to be, even in real life, and sometimes they change and do mean things. Critical thinking about what we upload as well as download is the best protection.

Parents: Talk with your kids about sexting in a relaxed setting. Ask them what they know about it (they may not have heard the term, so “naked photo-sharing” works too). Express how you 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.

  • If your children have sent any nude pictures of themselves, make sure they stop immediately. Explain that they’re at risk of being charged with producing and distributing child pornography. If they’ve received a nude photo, make sure they haven’t sent it to anyone else.
  • Have a good talk. Stay calm, be supportive and learn as much as you can about the situation. For example, see if it was impulsive behavior, a teen “romance” thing, or a form of harassment.
  • Consider talking with other teens and parents involved, based on what you’ve learned.
  • Some experts advise that you report the photo to your local police, but consider that, while intending to protect your child, you could incriminate another – and possibly your own child. That’s why it’s usually good to talk to the kids and their parents first. If malice or criminal intent is involved, you may want to consult a lawyer, the police, or other experts on the law in your jurisdiction, but be aware of the possibility that child-pornography charges could be filed against anyone involved.

Teens:

  • If a sexting photo arrives on your phone, first, do not send it to anyone else (that could be considered distribution of child pornography).
    Talk to a parent or trusted adult. Tell them the full story so they know how to support you. And don’t freak out if that adult decides to talk with the parents of others involved – that could be the best way to keep all of you from getting into serious trouble. Best practice is to delete the photo and block that contact immediately and do not talk about it to anyone.
  • If the picture is from a friend or someone you know, then someone needs to talk to that friend so he or she knows sexting is against the law. You’re actually doing the friend a big favor because of the serious trouble that can happen if the police get involved.
  • If the photos keep coming, you and a parent might have to speak with your friend’s parents, school authorities or the police.

Several cases have been reported of teens being prosecuted for taking, distributing and possessing pictures of themselves or friends. We think that law enforcement should treat sexting as a criminal act and should play more as an educational role, along with parents, community leaders, school officials and other caring adults.

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I wonder though. Why porn sites at internet exist? I say, erase and block all porn sites and online porn and see what happens! I bet 50% immediate decrease in global sex crimes. What purpose sex websites serve anyway? Any country can block and filter such website to display for its nation very easily.

Please help spread the word.

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