Many teenagers love sexting, which is the sending and receiving of nude or sexually suggestive photographs. Unfortunately, this "innocent" habit isn't as harmless as most of these teens would have you believe. There are both legal and nonlegal consequences related to sexting. Here are four examples:
Break Specific Texting Laws
Some states have enacted specific laws that deal with sexting. In such states, it may not be illegal to receive explicit images because lawmakers understand that your child can't prohibit someone from sending such images to you. However, it is illegal to keep such images after receiving them. Therefore, immediate deletion may save your kid from the legal consequences of sexting. Even if your teen receives an image that is programmed not to be deleted, he or she can avoid criminal consequences by proving that he or she tried to delete it.
Break Child Pornography Laws
Even if your state hasn't enacted specific texting laws, your teen may still be ensnared by child pornography laws. According to Federal law, child pornography is any sexually explicit depiction of a child under the age of 18. Some people think that pornography has to involve sexual activity, but this is not true. Any sexually suggestive image or photograph, such as a lascivious depiction of the pubic area, may be considered as child pornography.
Damage His or Her Reputation
Sexting can hurt both senders and receivers of the explicit contents. For example, when your teen sends his or her nude pictures to another person, there is always the chance that it may end up online and be seen by the wrong people. This may happen if either the sender's or receiver's phone is hacked, or one of the parties deliberately uploads the picture to the web. Some teens even find joy in sharing those pictures with other people. Such actions can damage your child's reputation and make it difficult for him or her to participate in normal childhood or school activities.
Become a Bully or Bullying Victim
Teenagers are very self-conscious about their images. This is why they find it so devastating when their friends or schoolmates start spreading their nude and embarrassing images with other friends. Unfortunately, some of them find joy in hurting their peers via bullying, and will not hesitate to start harassing their peers when they receive their naked pictures. Some teens have even committed or attempted to commit suicide as a result of sexting gone awry.
Many teens engage in sexting as a harmless pastime without knowing how much trouble it can get them into. It's up to you to help your child deal with the nonlegal consequences. As for legal problems, hiring a juvenile lawyer may help lessen the severity of the charges and sentences.