On behalf of Maynard & Sumner, LLC posted in Sex Crimes on Sunday, January 12, 2014.
It is not always easy to stay on top of what your tween or teen is up to. Even if you regularly monitor your child’s phone, internet browser history and social calendar, it is impossible to know what he or she is doing at all times. This reality is both natural and healthy. Tweens and teens need room to explore the world and push their boundaries in healthy ways. However, it is important that even if your child is a generally responsible and well-behaved individual that you set critical boundaries when it comes to electronic communication.
A recent study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics indicates that more than one out of every five tweens and teens enrolled in middle school admit to sexting. While some parents may find this behavior to be a relatively harmless exploration of self and social norms, some states consider sexting to be a sex crime. In all states, if nude, semi-nude or otherwise sexually explicit photos of minors are sent via text or email, these images are considered to be child pornography.
In this sense, sexting is not a harmless expression or exploration. Some teens are even being charged with possession of child pornography after receiving sexually explicit texts and emails. In some states, conviction of this offense results in mandatory sexual offender registration. Please, if you have a middle schooler or high schooler, do not assume that he or she understands the risks of sexting. Talk to your child and enforce strict prohibitions on underage sexting.
If you or your child is in legal trouble, contact an experienced attorney.
Source: Findlaw Blotter, “How Many Middle Schoolers Are ‘Sexting’?” Jenny Tsay, Jan. 6, 2014