Parents of teenagers who are in relationships with cellphones are you listening?
Any nude or semi-nude photos that are transmitted electronically (even just sent via cell phone) are considered in many states to be child pornography trafficking, even if the juvenile is sending a photo of himself or herself. The laws vary from state to state, but here in our home state of Maine, for example, the law is extremely harsh.
According to Mobile Media Guard "Under Maine law anyone - regardless of age - who creates, distributes or possesses an image of a minor engaged in a sexually explicit act may be prosecuted under the State’s child pornography laws and if convicted, may serve up to 10 years in jail and be required to register as a sex offender."
Most kids and adults I've spoken to at statewide presentations over the last few months know the term "sexting," but had no idea the stiff penalties associated with it. Furthermore, most adults and kids didn't realize that if they encountered a sext on a cell phone or via the Internet, they, themselves could possibly be arrested for forwarding that photo electronically in any way--even to the authorities!
The fact that 36% of Americans (I'm assuming they polled adults) are admitting to engaging in what is called "consensual sexting" is frankly not a surprise. Teens engage in this form of relationship currency all the time. They're calling them "Selfies" self-shot provocative photos, an absolutely beautifully narcissistic way to capture one's youth. Thanks Rihanna!
When it stops being "consensual" and begins being cyberbullying is the moment the relationship turns sour or ends. This is the kind of "what would you do" talk you should be having with your teenagers who own cell phones. For example:
Parent: "What happens when Joe or Mary decides to spread your image around to all 500 of his/her Facebook friends?"
Teen: "He/she would never do that!" i
When 1 in 5 sext recipients report they have passed the images along to someone else and more than half (55%) of those who have reported sending them to someone else say they shared them with more than one person--try saying that again with a straight face.
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