Parents Corner – Sexting
In PEERS we stress the importance of healthy relationships. Our mentors help younger teens to understand that healthy relationships are based on mutual respect, not just physical attraction. In a healthy relationship, teens do not pressure each other into doing things that could be hurtful like drinking, smoking, using drugs, having sex or oral sex or even sexting.
Sexting is sending sexually explicit text, photos or videos via cell phone or the Internet. Sometimes teens share pictures voluntarily, but often times they are pressured into it. Although more and more teens (and even tweens) seem to be sexting, it is a very big deal and here’s why:
- Sexting betweens minors is a felony and can have serious, lifelong consequences. Teens that send or receive explicit pictures can be charged with possession of child pornography. If convicted, they can be labeled as a sex offender for the rest of their life.
- Once photos or videos are sent, some teens use them to bully, harass, intimidate or embarrass the sender. And once the pictures is out there, it will never go away.
- “Sexy” photos that are meant only to be seen by a boyfriend or a girlfriend end up being forwarded. The truth is, one photo could easily reach hundreds and even thousands of other people in just a few hours via websites and cell phones.
- To stay safe, teens should never send or post sexually provocative pictures. If they do, they are risking their future college or employment hopes and their reputation with family, friends, teachers and anyone else who could see the photo.
- Not only should teens refuse to be pressured into sending explicit pictures, they should never open or forward explicit pictures from others. Teens should also talk to their friends who sext and encourage them to stop before they get into serious trouble. If necessary, a parent or other responsible adult might have to get involved. Good friends look out for each other and try to keep each other safe.
The bottom line is that sexting is a huge deal and a very serious crime. No “hot” picture or “sexy” video will be worth the consequences a teen could face for sending it, receiving it or forwarding it.