Parents and Teens – Be Alert to the Dangers of Sexting

Is your teenager always texting? Then you need to have an important conversation with them. “Sexting” is a term to describe the action of sending sexually explicit messages or photographs through an electronic device. Sexting has become increasingly popular between teenagers. According to A Thin Line 2009 AP-MTV Digital Abuse Study, “3 out of 10 young people have been involved in some type of naked sexting.”

You may be asking, what is the danger behind sexting? For one thing, sexting damages lives. The New York Times had a recent cover story, A Girl’s Nude Photo, Lives Alter. The article discusses a sexting incident in Lacey, Washington. A young girl sends a naked photo to her boyfriend and before you know it, the photo goes viral. . . possibly thousands viewed the photo. The effects of this incident were damaging indeed. The teens that were involved as well their family and friends are forever impacted. Shame, embarrassment, pain, for a simple action that now can never be erased. I recommend that all parents and teenagers read that article!

The other danger behind texting is legal troubles. In Washington State and Oregon, sexting may result in state felony charges including dissemination of child pornography. The act of sexting is not illegal, but it becomes a legal issue when the photographer, recipient of the text or distributor is under the age of 18. That is when child pornography charges can come into play.

Sexting is not to be taken lightly! Parents, talk to your children about this very real issue. Explain to them the dangers that are involved. If a teen has gotten involved in sexting, they may need counseling to help them deal with the effects. If so, seek the assistance of a mental health care professional.

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