It is time to talk about sexting.
Sexting is a combination of the words, sex and texting. It is the act of sending sexually explicit messages or photos electronically, primarily between mobile phones.
Why is sexting so important to talk about?
It is going on in our community and negatively impacting our kids.
The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, about 22 percent of teenage girls and 18 percent of boys admit to having “electronically sent, or posted online, nude or seminude pictures or video of themselves.”
I can tell you as a person who goes out and talks with teens about sexual assault, sexual harassment, healthy relationships, etc, that sexting is alive and growing here in the Rappahannock area.
Sexting opens doors for predators
Anthony R. Stancl, is charged with setting up fake profiles on Facebook to dupe 31 male classmates, some as young as 15, into sending him nude photographs of themselves. He led them to believe they were sending the photos to a flirtatious young girl who would reciprocate by sending them naked pictures of herself. He then threatened to release the photos to the victims’ friends or even all of their schools- 850 students- if the youths who had sent them to him did not agree to perform the sexual acts he subsequently demanded. The tactic was successful, officials said. Mr. Stancl is accused of using it to sexually assault seven boys.
Sexting can have devastating emotional effects.
I used to tell teens that they should never post or send anything they would not want their mom or dad to see. I have learned though, to help them truly understand the possible outcomes of sexting, they should never post or send anything they would never want their arch enemy to get ahold of! These text and photos are so easy to copy, manipulate, and spread!
For example, 18 year old Jesse Logan and her boyfriend broke up and he decided to share the private pictures with other teen girls. The girls then started calling Jesse names such as slut and whore. The pressure was too much for Jesse and she took her own life, she committed suicide by hanging herself.
Sexting is illegal.
Creating, transmitting, and even possessing a nude, seminude, or sexually explicit image of a minor can be considered child pornography. It can be prosecuted as a state or federal felony and can even lead to a person having to register as a sex offender. I am not going to debate the laws here; I just want to make sure we have a clear understanding that sexting is not just some silly thing kids do that we should laugh off as “kids being kids.” There are very serious repercussions.
- In Spotsylvania county two teen boys were charged with electronic solicitation and possession of child pornography with intent to distribute. The teens were said to have solicited the photos from middle and high school students.
- Four students at Staunton River High School in Bedford County Virginia faced criminal charges after an investigation uncovered nude cell phone photographs of minors. All four teens were charged with misdemeanors related to obscenity offenses, one of them is also charged with a felony.
- An Assistant Principal at Freedom High School in Loudoun County Virginia was arrested for child pornography he had as a result of investigating sexting in his school. He was later vindicated, but only after the ruination of his career, reputation, and finances.
The bottom line is that sexting is a very dangerous thing for kids to be involved in. Parents, TALK TO YOUR KIDS ABOUT SEXTING! Make sure you are aware of their activities online and on the phone. Kids do not automatically think of all the possible consequences of their actions, so it is up to us to make them aware of them.