Would you know if your teen was sexting?
Are they aware of the risks and consequences of sending or receiving a sexual message?
In a recent study by JAMA Pediatrics the sending of sexually explicit videos, images or messages via cell phone texts also known as sexting — has become more common among adolescents. It also revealed that as the teen gets older, engaging in sext messages increases.
As we have witnessed with medicine abuse and other substance use, many parents live in denial that their teen would participate in this activity. Today sexting is considered the new flirting and some youth are not aware of the risks or consequences (potentially legal ones) they can fall into.
Across the globe we have seen sexting scandals in schools, from Duxbury, Massachusetts to Canon City, Colorado to Nova Scotia, Canada – it can happen anywhere. In North Carolina a high school quarterback faced felony charges and a sex offender status when he and his girlfriend were exchanging nude photos.
The consequences of sexting also extend offline. When something that was intended to be a private communication ends up in public, the shame and humiliation can drive our kids to the point of self-destruction. Another consequence of sexting: Experts have found children and teens that sext are more likely to engage in real-world sexual activity than students who don’t sext.
For generations, many parents have cringed at the thought of having the “birds and the bees” conversation. Today we have to open the door for the “sext talk” without hesitation as children are digitally connected for an average of 9 hours a day. The parents of Jessica Logan, Hope Witsell, Audrie Pott and Amanda Todd are sadly linked together by the aftermath of sexting and cyberbullying with the loss of their teens to bullycide.
It’s a parent’s responsibility to empower their children and teens with the knowledge to make good choices about how to use all forms of technology and social media. It’s their offline skills that will help them make better online decisions. Your teen may always be an app ahead of you, but they will always need your parenting wisdom echoing in their ear when you’re not there – while making their digital choices.
The sext chat outline for parents to open the dialogue:
- Talk about it. Frequently and start early. Stress the importance of safe sharing online. When your kids hear news of sext crime cases, initiate a conversation. Talk about how sexting leads to negative consequences even for adults. Revenge porn is rising every day. It can happen to anyone at any age.
- Make it real. Kids don’t always realize that what they do online is “real-life.” Ask them to consider how they would feel if their teacher or grandparent saw a provocative comment or picture. Remind them there’s no rewind online and no true delete button in the digital world. Comments and photos are not retrievable.
- Address peer pressure. Give your kids a way out – blame it on us. Tell them to let their friends know that their parents monitor (and/or spot check) their phones and social media, and you can’t risk losing your devices.
- Discuss legal and online consequences. Depending on your state, there can be legal ramifications when you send sexual content or even participate in forwarding it. What goes online – stays online. This is your digital landscape.
- If you receive a sexual message, never engage in it or forward it. Tell your parent or trusted adult immediately. If necessary, contact the authorities or your school.
- Know that your parent is only a call away. Let your child know they can always come to you without judgment. These conversations are about building trust — our kids may always be an “app” ahead of us, but we will always be the adult in the family – lead by example and be there for them.
Has your teen been a victim of sextortion or revenge porn? Maybe involved in a sexting scandal? Know there is help and resources available:
Contributor: Sue Scheff is the founder of Parents Universal Resource Experts, Inc and has published three books. Her latest is Shame Nation: Choosing Kindness and Compassion In An Age of Cruelty and Trolling (Sourcebooks, October 2017).
Tags: Parenting Teens,Sexting,Teen Online Safety,Teen Sexting
Posted by Sue Scheff
on March 30, 2016 / Posted in Internet Safety
, Teen Help
Did you know that 54 percent of adolescents report knowing someone who has sent a text, and 15 percent admitted to sexting?
Sending sexual images and content has consequences not only to your teenager but in some situations, to parents also.
Sexting laws are relatively new. State laws regarding sexting differ significantly and in states without designated sexting laws, the crime may still be punished under pre-existing laws that target child pornography. While the legal consequences of sexting are still a little hazy, it’s a good idea to talk keep your kids in the loop. This infographic provides tips for parents to prepare their children for an increasingly digital world.
Published with permission by:
Permanent Picture: Teen Sexting (And What Parents Should Do About It) (via Intella Blog)
Tags: Parenting Teens,Teen Sexting
Teen Sexting: The Risks and Consequences
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.”
What about your teenager, what consequences do they potentially face?
- 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.
Tags: Teen Help,Teen Sexting