Rolling Out

Parents, why sexting can get your child raped and sentenced to prison

Parents, why sexting can get your child raped and sentenced to prison
Photo credit: Myra Harris

If you watch the news, teen sexting seems to be on the rise. But parents of teens should be concerned about the ramifications when teens engage in sexting, in some cases sending naked pictures between teens can lead to charges of child pornography, sexual exploitation of a minor or statutory rape. These are felony charges that can lead to a teen having to register as a juvenile sex offender in many states or in some cases result in prison time. Even though sexting may be consensual between teens, it is still considered child pornography.

In the U.S. court system, sexting is defined as “an act of sending sexually explicit materials through mobile phones.” These messages could be texts, photos or videos. There are eight states that have bills to protect teens from sexting with many more state legislatures proposing new bills every year.

The statistics regarding sexting among teens show a serious problem:

– Nearly 40 percent of all teenagers have posted or sent sexually suggestive messages, but this practice is more common among boys than girls.

– Sending semi-nude or nude photos is more common among teen girls. Twenty-two percent of teen girls report sending images of this nature, while only 18 percent of same-age boys have.

– Sending or receiving a sexually suggestive text or image under the age of 18 is considered child pornography and can result in criminal charges.

– Twenty-four percent of high-school age teens (ages 14 to 17) and 33 percent of college-age students (ages 18 to 24) have been involved in a form of nude sexting.

Once these messages are sent, they can be shared without the other party knowing about it and the images or video can become viral among the teen’s peer group and beyond. Suddenly, a young girl may find herself the target of unwanted sexual advances or even rape because of the images or text. It is important when a parent gives a teen a smartphone to cover the rules regarding its use and the consequences of sexting.

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