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The Bare Facts About Teen Sexting

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What are your kids doing on your dime? According to www.NetSmartz.org One of five teens ages 12-17 have sent or received pornographic pictures or videos of themselves of others on their cell phones, a habit commonly known as "sexting". This trend, as shocking as it may seem, is not uncommon among high-school aged teens.


"I think it's pretty common. I'm not into that kind of thing, but its like part of the modern teenage dating ritual. I can't see why any girl would want to risk her reputation over something like that. I mean think of what would happen if a parent or teacher found your phone and started looking through it." said high school senior, Julie.



There are three main scenarios for teen sexting: An exchange of images between romantic partners, exchanges between people who are not yet in a relationship but at least one person hopes to be, and the exchange of pictures of unknown persons.


According to a joint study by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and CosmoGirl 58% of teen sexting is meant to stay solely between two romantic partners. This is the most common type of sexting, and may seem like the safest, but many times when those partners "break up" the images that have been saved may get circulated around to other teens.


According to high school sophomore Sierra, there is nothing wrong with sexting between two romantic partners as long as you are responsible about it.



"Sexting, Now lets be honest. Everyone knows that when you haven't been around your loved one for a certain amount of time you need to have a little fun… What do you think? I think if you can keep it under control and not go all out and share your private conversations with your friends than it's ok… Just be an adult about it and keep it only between you and the person you are talking with." said Sierra.


Although not as common as sexting in a relationship, sexting as a way of flirting has the capacity to be the most dangerous to a teen's reputation.


"Sexting as a way to flirt? Yeah, I think it’s a bad idea. I mean I've done it before and those texts ended up being shown to a bunch of my friends. I don't think sexting with your boyfriend is such a bad thing because you can trust them, but sending hot pictures to someone you don't know to well is a really bad idea." Said one anonymous teen.


Are parents aware of this growing trend among teens? Most parents aren't, eight out of ten parents polled said that they always thought of sexting as something the "bad kids" did, they didn't consider it something that their teens might be involved in.


"No, I don't think parents in general are aware of some of the things their teenage children are doing on their computers and phones. I would have never guessed that my child would be involved in something like sexting, it came as quite a shock to me… I don't see why all these girls would want to risk those kind of pictures circulating amongst their friends. " said one anonymous parent.



Sexting, along with being detrimental to a teen's reputation, is also against the law. If a sext is reported to the police the sender can be charged with distributing child pornography and the receiver can be charged with possession.


According to www.cnetnews.com Phillip Albert, now 20 years of age, has faced dire consequences with his involvement in sexting. When he was 17, his girlfriend sent him a nude photo. A little over a year later, when he was 18, he and his girlfriend got into an argument. After she sent him a nasty message he forwarded her photo to everybody on his contact list. As a result, his girlfriend's nude photo was sent to over 70 people including "friends, teachers, parents and grandparents". Philip was arrested for the distribution of child pornography, put of five years probation, and was required to register on the public sex offenders list.


Many states impose criminal penalties if you are caught sexting. This is done under the umbrella of child pornography laws. According to www.LegalMatch.com Sexting is considered a misdemeanor in all fifty states and is considered a felony in Indiana, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wyoming.


What can parents do? According to one anonymous Charlevoix High student, parents just talking to their teens and taking an interest in their friend would stop a lot of problems such as sexting before they even started.


“I would be much more likely to do stuff like that (sexting) if my mom wasn’t interested in who I was hanging with and, like, how my day went and stuff. I think kids that have parents that don’t ask them about what they do, or try and meet all their friends are more likely to get in trouble for stuff. Its so much easier to get into trouble if your parents don’t ask.” Said one anonymous high school student




According to high school Principle Suzanne Klinger the best way for parents to prevent sexting is to keep a close eye on their cell phones.


“Parents can prevent sexting by requiring their son or daughter to not delete messages from their phones and by checking the messages on a daily basis. Parents can also track their son or daughter’s phone use via the phone bill and determine who they are communicating with.” Said Klinger.




Sidebar:


Tips to prevent sexting

Parents.

1.
Communication is key, talk to your teens about sexting. Explain the dangers.
2.
Set boundaries with cell phone use. Have rules about when and who your teens text. Example: “No texting the opposite gender after 10pm”
3.
Go online and look at your teen’s phone bill, it will show every txt they send or receive. Look for patterns such as your teen sends a lot of picture and video texts to a certain person of group of people, most likely the opposite gender.

Teens.

1.
Talk to your parents, they are there to help and support you.
2.
If you receive an unwanted sext, do not delete it. Talk to your parents or another trusted adult immediately.
3.
If the sext if from somebody you know, you may want to consider talking to them and explaining the dangers of sexting.





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