Sexting is an issue parents should become aware of
It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Jesse Logan sent a nude picture to her boyfriend and it cost her a lot more; her life. The photo ended up being forwarded to her classmates. The Ohio teenager was harassed. She was so miserable, she hung herself.
Jesse was the victim of a disturbing trend that is making it’s way through high school hallways. It is called sexting, or sending nude photos via cell phone. The typical sexting scenario involves a young couple who sends nude photos to each other as a special gift. But once they break up, those pictures can be used as leverage for revenge
“These images are being consensually sent out the first time around, but then there’s no way to put the genie back into the bottle,” said District Attorney Ben David.
What begins as a private gift can spiral into public mortification. Through the halls and into the hands of every high school student; posted on the internet for the whole world to see. “They are making decisions in some cases that they’re going to have to live with when they’re applying for that first job or when they’re trying to get into school,” said David. “Whatever image is out there of them might be coming back to haunt them.”
Humiliation is just the beginning. Teens may not realize the severity of their actions. Sending nude pictures of a minor, anyone under 18, fits the legal description of distributing child pornography – a felony. Even if the teen takes the picture of him or herself, it is considered manufacturing child porn. Everyone who the picture is forwarded to, can be charged with possessing child porn. They could also have to register as a sex offender.
A recent survey found that one in five teens sext. A few are getting caught.
Eighteen-year old Phillip Alpert of Orlando will be registered as a sex offender until he is 43, after forwarding nude photos of his ex-girlfriend. In Spotsylvania, Virginia two teenage boys are facing child pornography charges for cell phone pictures of five nude girls, one of whom is in elementary school.
So is sexting an issue locally?
Behavior Specialist Hannah Griesbauer said not in New Hanover County schools. “We don’t want to wait until it does come across our desk before we do something about it,” she said. “So we want to make sure that we’re staying on top of the technology and we’re kind of staying ahead of the game, which can sometimes be very difficult because technology moves at a fast pace.”
Ben David said sexting is a growing issue that should not be ignored. “That happens in both New Hanover and Pender County, wherever there’s young people, cell phones and the internet, which is to say everywhere.”
By simply pushing the send button, teens can cause life-altering consequences. David said, “Phases can last a short time, but images can last forever.”
Pender County law enforcement officers are dealing with several sexting cases involving middle and high school students. None of the families involved were willing to talk about sexting on camera.
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