The Perils of Sexting: Take Steps Now to Prevent Your Teen from Crossing a Major Legal Line

kvEach generation of parents raising children faces challenges that the prior generation did not have to deal with. Today, one of the largest hurdles for parents revolves around use of the internet and mobile phone.

Recent statistics published by Pew Internet claim that 54% of teens text daily, and half of them send 100+ texts per day. It is apparent that texting is their primary means of communicating with their friends. However, a cell phone in the hands of a teenager represents a prime example of something with both potentially favorable and dangerous consequences.

Imagine the following scenario:

A mother receives a call from the local police department. The police officer indicates he has confiscated her 10th grade son's mobile phone because he received a report that the teen engaged in sexting. Bewildered, the mother inquires as to what the officer means and hears him explain that sexting is the act of sending or receiving sexually explicit messages or photographs between mobile phones.

The officer further explains that the son's girlfriend had sent him nude photographs, and her son had saved them on his phone. When the two got into a fight, her son threatened to send the nude photographs to everyone via text message. Scared, the girlfriend told her parents, who called the police to stop the distribution of the material.

The police officer advises the mom that the son will be charged with the crime of possession of child pornography. Shocked, the mother hangs up the phone and waits for her son to come home from school, while wondering how her son could be charged with possession of child pornography.

Several weeks later, the son receives a summons to appear in court for possession child pornography for receiving and saving the photographs. Furthermore, the police department also charged his girlfriend with "distribution of child pornography" for sending the photos.

The above story is very alarming and becoming increasingly common. Police departments struggle with how to handle the conduct because Massachusetts does not have law that deals specifically with sexting. MA is one of many states across the county that have been struggling to develop laws that keep up with technology and the manner in which it is used. ...

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by: Kevin V. Maltby

BusinessWest
July 19, 2010

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