Parents, you may want to take a closer look at your kids cell phones. “Sexting” is sending nude, or partially nude, pictures via cell phones, and it’s a growing trend among teens.
Jesse Logan’s story had a very sad ending. She sent a nude picture to her boyfriend. The photo ended up being forwarded to her classmates. The Ohio teenager was harassed to the extent she was so miserable, she hung herself.
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, and then there’s no way to put the genie back into the bottle,” said DA Ben David.
What begins as a private gift can spiral into public mortification that spreads through the halls and beyond as the images can be posted on the internet for the whole world to see.
Humiliation is just the beginning. Teens may not realize the severity of their actions.
Sending nude pictures of a minor fits the legal description of distributing child pornography, which is a felony.
Even if the teen takes the picture of him or herself, it is considered manufacturing child porn, and 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; 18-year old Phillip Alpert of Orlando will be registered as a sex offender until he’s 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, including one elementary school aged girl.
So is sexting an issue locally?
Behavior specialist Hannah Griesbauer says 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. 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.”
District Attorney Ben David says sexting is a growing issue that shouldn’t be ignored. “It happens in both New Hanover and Pender County, wherever there’s young people and cell phones and the internet which is to say everywhere.”