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What parents should know about teens and sexting

Author: Catherine Harris
Published: Aug 8 2013

Teens and sexting is a growing phenomenon where young adults use their cellphones to share racy texts, photos and videos. In two separate incidents in Florida, a young teenage girl is facing charges of child pornography for sharing naked photos of herself to her friends. In another instance, a teenage boy got tossed out of college and had to register as a sex offender because he shared naked photos of his girlfriend with his friends. Sexting is a problem that society needs to address because the punishments don’t fit with the crimes. It’s also a serious dilemma that parents need to become aware, so they can deal with the illegal ramifications.

Teen sexting

Is Your Teen Sexting?

Cellphones have become a primary accessory in your teen’s hands, and they are seldom without them. In a recent poll taken, at least one in four teens had admitted to some involvement in sexting. Sexting between teens is a serious dilemma where they share provocative messages, pictures or videos through their cellphones or computers. According to the latest studies, children as young as 9 years of age may be participating in this type of disturbing behavior.

How Is Sexting Used?

Sexting is typically a form of flirting where others use it to get the attention of someone they like. It can also be used to improve their social status with their peers, to gain recognition or harass and hurt an innocent victim. In many states, laws concerning sexting can be extremely serious, and your teen could be prosecuted for child pornography. In Florida, for example, child pornography can be anything from a photo posted on the internet to artwork that depicts a minor in a sexual or suggestive situation, says Orlando sex crime attorney James Phillips. This type of offense can never go away and if you are the person at fault for taking the photos and sending them or you’ve been the receiver of the pictures, and you have them on your phone, you could face serious jail time. Your photos could also be out there for anyone to view and affect future personal relationships, college and employment issues. If you were caught sending the photos, you might also have to register as a sexual offender in your current state where you reside.

Tips for Parents

Parents should take an active role in monitoring their teen’s cellphone usage. Monitoring their whereabouts and who they are communicating with is key to its prevention. You can also speak with your teen and make sure that they understand the seriousness of sexting, and the consequences they could face if found guilty. Boundaries should be immediately established with your teen’s cellphones and if they break the rules, they will be punished. If your teen has sent photos to another individual, an action plan needs to be implemented to see who has the photos in their possession. If your teen is facing child pornography charges or other fines and penalties because of their actions, you need the help of an attorney to explore your legal options.

Parents may be oblivious to the many uses of cellphones for their teen, and the troubling trend of sexting. However, they should find a way to work with the school counselor, teachers and lawmakers to implement a plan to deal with this disturbing trend, and the consequences that may follow.

Freelance writer Catherine Harris is a parent of two young children and is pleased to offer this information on helping teens safely navigate the use of modern social media. In central Florida, concerned parents may seek the advice of an Orlando sex crime attorney or other knowledgeable professional if their teen might have been involved in this behavior.

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