Sexting: How Parents Can Keep Their Kids Safe
A dangerous new practice can have serious legal and psychological consequences for your teen. It’s called sexting—sending sexually explicit text or photographs from mobile devices. The photographs are often shared voluntarily, but sometimes a young person may be coerced into taking or sending these photographs. Once the photos are sent, they can be used to bully, harass, intimidate, or embarrass victims online or via mobile devices.
Sexting can be a felony. Some teenagers who have sent or received explicit pictures have been charged with a sex crime. If convicted, your teen could be labeled as a sex offender for the rest of his or her life.
In many sexting situations, the photos shared between boyfriends and girlfriends are often forwarded and shared with friends and classmates. Access to technology means that one photo can reach thousands in just a few hours via websites and mobile devices.
The National Crime Prevention Council has valuable tips to help prevent your teen from becoming a sexting victim.
Teach, don’t preach. Use recent news stories as “teachable moments” to talk to your teen about your guidelines for safe Internet, cell phone, and social media behavior.
Encourage your teen to think before he or she sends or posts pictures and other personal information. Remember that every post from your teen is an electronic fingerprint that can damage his or her college careers, future employment opportunities, and reputation with friends, family, and neighbors.
If an inappropriate photo is being forwarded without the person’s permission, consider talking to the teen or the parents of the teen who is forwarding the photos. If necessary, report the situation to local law enforcement or school administrators and be mindful of the potential criminal consequences.