Whether it’s summer break or back to school, studies have shown teens spend a lot of time online. PEW Research revealed that 92% of teens are online daily while 24% are online constantly! From social media to texting, their keyboard is never far from their fingertips.
The fact is, does your teenager (or pre-teen) know and/or understand the consequences and risks that are connected with sending or receiving a text message that is considered sexual?
This is a serious concern for parents today that can have legal ramifications not only for the child, but can extend to the parents.
Let’s start with the parents. According to Lawyer.com a parent may face the following consequences if their teen is caught engaging in “sexting activities”:
- If a parent knows that his/her minor is engaging in “sexting” activities and does nothing to prevent it, that parent is at risk of being charged criminally with contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
- Furthermore, a parent who ignores and/or takes ineffective action against a child engaged in “sexting,” faces the potential of an investigation by the Child Protective Services and the resultant risk of losing and/or restricting some of the parents’ rights vis a vis the minor.
- A parent who negligently supervises his/her minor child that is engaged in “sexting” also faces the potential of a civil lawsuit for negligent supervision and negligent infliction of emotional distress filed by the parents of the minor child who received the photos.
- In addition, the parents of a “sexting” minor might have to pay monetary damages to the recipient teen if it is found that the parents were negligent in supervising their child and/or failed to adequately discipline their child after discovery that their child was engaged in “sexting.”
- Teens participating in “sexting” activities – those that send and receive the sexually explicit photos – are at risk of potential criminal charges for child pornography OR criminal use of a communication device, and in some states, face the exposure of having to register as a sex offender – a stigma that could haunt them the rest of their lives
- Not only do teens who participate in “sexting” face the risk of criminal prosecution and the prospects of incarceration and/or probation, which will potentially remain on their criminal record for the indefinite future, they also face the prospect of the possibility of being required by the Court to register as sex offenders.
- This label has horrific consequences for teens including mandated reporting of the sex offender in various public records and very burdensome notification requirements that the sex offender must comply with – which may remain with the sex offender for the rest of his/her life.
If you believe your teen is engaging in risky behavior online, talk to them. Discuss the consequences. Many offline discussions can help your child make better online choices.
There are residential programs for teens that are addicted to digital devices or pornography. For more information please contact us for details.