What is Sexting?
There was a front page (that continued to the entire back page) article in the local paper today (April 27, 2017). The local police are going to middle and high schools to explain social media consequences in hopes of preventing future cases of cyberbullying and child pornography. Did you know, one in five teenagers is sending sexually explicit photos electronically?
“I didn’t know the consequences, I just knew it was bad” confessed a student after listening to the community police describing in detail the cyberbullying and child pornography involving teens sending sexually explicit photos electronically. In other words, she didn’t KNOW as in totally comprehend that:
• Taking an inappropriate (showing certain naked body parts) selfie was creating child pornography (against the law)
• If you send the inappropriate selfie to anyone, you are now guilty of distributing child pornography (against the law)
• The person who receives it and has it on their phone or device is now in possession of child pornography (against the law)
• Child pornography laws include sexting in many states. If a teen or adult creates, distributes or possesses a sexually explicit image, they could be charged with a misdemeanor or felony that could result in up to 20 years in prison and appear on the state’s sex offender registry. (As a result there will be places you can’t live and there are a lot of jobs you will be ineligible to receive.)
• Students can also face charges from their school if the incident occurs on school property, including school buses, or on school-owned devices. (Think: if your school is a Bring Your Own Device to school, the potential problem this creates — there was a disruption at my school with a shared picture that flashed through the school within hours)
The students / people in general know about sexting in an abstract way thus believing nothing bad will happen to “me”, or this kind of stuff doesn’t happen / is not a big deal at my school or in my community. It’s happening in every community because there is an idea:
• I’m in the privacy of my room or basement or nobody is home to see what I’m doing. Nobody will ever know. I’ll only do it this time. I’m a good person. Imagine the surprise of a local teacher who started watching porn in the privacy of his apartment, and weeks later progressed to the idea of why not download a package of porn, and then weeks later the police came to his home with a warrant for his computer. Possession of child porn is against the law. It didn’t matter that he didn’t know there was child porn in the package. He was charged, convicted and is now in jail. (What stunned me was, “How did the police know he downloaded this particular package?”)
• An elderly man left his cellphone at Starbucks in our community. The police found child pornography on the phone while searching for a way to return the phone to its owner. How many of us have lost our phone?
According to the news article, something else to consider:
• Most sexting incidents occur between a girlfriend and a boyfriend with the girlfriend sending graphic photos after the encouragement of the boyfriend who is probably already watching porn. Her pictures are more personal and a trophy to be shared. This is now cyberbullying because the sexual image is spread without the person’s consent. This affects futures. Once an image is uploaded, there is no way to permanently delete the file. It is there / somewhere forever and can come back to haunt / embarrass you, your family, spouse, future children, employer.
• When people break up (whether married, single, engaged) many share any sexually explicit pictures they have. Revenge
• Sexual predators can track down someone’s location based on details in their photos, such as their home address and school.
• If you receive sexually explicit material go to a trusted adult who will talk with a law professional for advice because nothing is completely erased.
• If you (teen) are asked to send a graphic photo, contact a trusted adult to help you handle a potential serious situation properly. It is not going to get better / easier if you deal with it yourself. You need advice, support and encouragement to do the right thing for yourself.
These are facts students of all ages need to be told / reminded each and every year. Facts are important pieces of information. They help inform our decisions and we use them to explain why we do what we do. I included the above personal stories because they are relatable as in “this can happen to me”.
NOTE FROM AUTHOR:
* I asked a policeman about this article, “What do you do if I had an inappropriate picture sent to me? The article said, you can delete it but the image in never completely gone.” His reply was call your local police, tell them you have been sent an inappropriate picture, they will take it off your phone. They will determine where / who sent the photo and deal with the situation. He explained the local police have two full time policemen (Marietta City, GA) who work on cyberbullying. The county police force (COBB County, GA Police) even more. This is a problem.
For another Article please check this blog post: http://thehealthymindcurriculum.com/i-wanted-him-to-like-me/