The Dangers of Sexting
While sexting is becoming more and more popular, so is ignorance toward its consequences. Sending, receiving, or forwarding sexually explicit photographs or messages via an electronic device falls under the category of sexting. The real trouble begins when minors get involved.
A study conducted by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy shows that 51% of teen girls feel pressured to send/post sexually suggestive content.
There are many reasons why girls send semi-nude or nude photos. If their peers are sexting, there is more pressure on them to conform. Many are experimenting with their sexuality and wanting to feel sexy or dealing with pressures from a boyfriend, friend, or stranger.
What begins as playful flirting may have serious repercussions. Sending as photo with the intent to harm another person, may be considered cyber bullying and child pornography.
The most common scenario is when a young couple sends each other an explicit photograph, but one of them decides to send it to their friends, after they breakup.
Having your photos exposed to the student body in a very private way can have a detrimental effect on that student’s performance in school, social life, and attitude at home. Unfortunately, there have been many incidents where teens felt so humiliated when their photos were texted to students at school they ended their lives.
For many parents who have lost their children to suicide after their pictures were shared at school, this is a very serious matter. So far, there have been child pornography charges filed against some teens in the United States. Being a registered sex-offender before hitting age 20 is something that can very well ruin a future with goals that were once attainable. Charges relating to child pornography are taken very seriously in the business world and can severely impact a student’s chances at getting a job and a degree from a desired institute. Consequences include but are not limited to jail time, expulsion from school, organizations, sports teams, etc. If charged, the law will put you on the same level as those who have molested, raped and explicitly photographed children. If none of the above was done then, as a moral standard, anything that can risk that reputation should be left alone.
This is why if you know someone who is going though this, it is always wise to know how to treat the situation. Pointing, whispering, ignoring, or making fun of a victim of such humiliation are ways that make a passerby just another bully. Treating this person like you would treat them without the incident is the right path to take.
To avoid any of this to happen, minors need to be educated about what sexting is and most importantly—its consequences. There are countless articles written, studies done, and television specials made to educate the public about these things and it’s as easy as turning on the computer or the T.V. Just a simple talk can be the difference, and it’s especially effective if it’s all discussed before giving phone and social networking privileges. It’s always a good reminder that texting and being on social sites is a privilege, and if this privilege is taken advantage of, a world of consequences can follow.
Leda Costa, a volunteer with Beyond Bullies, contributed to the article