The Dangers of Teen Sexting: What Parents Need To Know


Disturbing new information indicates that sexting—the sharing of sexually explicit photos, videos, and texts—is a common practice among today's teenagers. Unfortunately, many may not realize exactly how dangerous the "sexts" are to their future. If caught, some teens face criminal charges for what many think of as a mostly private act.

If you're the parent of a teenager in today's high-tech world, this is what you need to know about sexting.

Sexting Has Become Common

Thanks in part to the prevalence of smartphones, more and more young people are engaging in risky behavior. Pediatric journals report that 22% of middle schoolers under the age of 14 have participated in some form of sexting. When high school students are included in studies, the rate of those sexting rises to 27%.

Teens Don't Understand the Risks

Unfortunately, teenagers don't seem to understand the risks they face from sexting. Most never anticipate the potential that the recipient of a sext will even show anyone else. When it happens, they aren't prepared for the backlash of teasing, bullying, and other humiliating events. They certainly aren't prepared to be arrested.

Yet an arrest is actually one of the major risks of sexting that many teens fail to appreciate. If they send a sexually explicit photo or video to someone that doesn't welcome their advances—or someone whose parent happens to get involved—they could end up arrested on child pornography charges.

Old Laws Are Being Used To Address New Situations

The law takes an admittedly disjointed approach toward teen sexting, treating the teenagers who send their own nude photos out as both victim and perpetrator. Some cases, like that of a 17-year-old in Washington who was convicted of distributing child pornography after he sent pictures of his own genitals to a woman, show that pornography laws don't make exceptions for circumstances or age.

Experts say that the problem is that the law hasn't really kept up with the times. When most child pornography laws were established, the goal was to protect children from adults. Nobody thought that children might one day run afoul of the exact same laws and end up charged with crimes that would haunt them the rest of their lives.

While some acknowledge the problems with making a juvenile register as a sex offender for life for sending out his or her own nude "selfies" even to another juvenile, prosecutors often defend such harsh sentences. They say that the ultimate goal is to protect the public as a whole and put an end to all child porn. While that means that a few teens may suffer terrible consequences for a foolish act, that's the price of progress.

Teens Accused of Sexting Need Representation

A teen accused of sexting should never go into an investigation without legal representation. It's not possible for a teen to be adequately prepared for the invasive nature of that kind of case on his or her own. Not only will your teen be subjected to interrogation about his or her actions, his or her cell phone will likely be seized and searched. It's possible that more charges could arise from what the police find on the phone. In addition, your child will likely be subjected to the most invasive search of all—police may get a warrant allowing them to photograph your child's genitals for comparison with photos already in evidence. 

If your child is involved in any type of sexting escapade that draws the attention of either school officials or police, expect more problems to follow. That makes it wise to get a criminal defense attorney on your side as soon as possible. For more information, contact firms like FUNDERBURK  AND LANE.


22 March 2018

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