Talking To Your Child About Sexting
Many youth believe that anything that they want to do with their bodies and their phones is their business. Youth enjoy the privacy and freedom that cell phones give them from their parents or guardians. But when they use that freedom and their cell phones to explore their budding sexuality, it’s easy to understand why 1 in 5 teens (13 – 19) reported having sent a sexually suggestive image or message. However, when youth engage in sexting, the sending or posting of nude or partially nude images of minors, the law takes a very different view.
Help your children avoid the potential life consequences of sexting by learning more about the issue. Talk to them early and often about how digital information and images may travel very far, very quickly. (Discussion starters: Have you ever received a sexual message or naked picture on your cell phone? Has anyone ever asked or pressured you to send a nude or sexual picture? Do you think it’s OK to send “sexy” messages or images? Why? What could happen to you if you send or forward a sexual text message or naked picture with your cell phone? How likely is it that images and messages intended for one person will be seen by others?)
Make it absolutely clear to youth that the moment they send a digital image of themselves from their cell phone, they completely lose control of what happens to it next.
TIPS TO PREVENT SEXTING
THINK ABOUT THE CONSEQUENCES of taking, sending or forwarding a sexual picture of someone underage, even if it’s of you. You could get kicked off of sports teams, face humiliation, lose educational opportunities, and even get in trouble with the law.
NEVER TAKE images of yourself that you wouldn’t want everyone – your classmates, your teachers, your family, or your employees – to see.
BEFORE HITTING SEND remember that you can’t control where this image may travel. What you send to a boyfriend or girlfriend could easily end up with their friends, and their friends, and their friends…
IF YOU FORWARD a sexual picture of someone underage, you are as responsible for this image as the original sender. You could face child pornography charges, go to jail, and have to register as a sex offender.
REPORT any nude pictures you receive on your cell phone to an adult you trust. Do not delete the message. Instead, get your parents or guardians, teachers, and school counselors involved immediately.