If you have a teenager, chances are pretty good that you’ve had to have a lot of uncomfortable conversations with them. Sexting, it likely one of them considering a whopping 40% of teenagers have posted or sent sexually provocative messages! But what should you do if you actually catch your child sexting? More importantly, what do we need to teach our children BEFORE they are caught sexting? Explaining morals and what God expects from your child is absolutely necessary, but if we’re being honest, there needs to be more to this discussion because any teenager is likely to be caught in this situation. They need to understand that sexting is a serious legal and CRIMINAL issue! Teenagers don’t think for a moment that they are breaking the law when they engaging in sexting and/or vamping activity. They need to you to explain how very serious this is. Their lives can be changed FOREVER, in more ways than you can even imagine.
First, the moment you give your child a phone, you need to talk about nude photos, regardless of the age of the child. If they are eight when you give them their first phone, you tell them to alert you if they ever see or receive a photo of someone naked. (You may also need to discuss what you mean by naked.) Once they reach the tween/teen years and you have started to discuss sex and purity with your child, you can take this conversation further and start teaching them about why they shouldn’t research sexual acts on their phone, and why we they should never participate in sexting. Spell out all of the reasons for them, from the moral expectations, to the fact that those pictures NEVER go away and “deleted” doesn’t mean erased permanently (automatic backups to the cloud) AND then you should go into why it is also criminal!
We’re talking LIFE CHANGING criminal!
Although some states have adjusted their laws to prevent a minor from being labeled a “sex offender” for the REST OF THEIR LIFE, there are still several SEVERAL states that haven’t updated their laws yet. That means your child could be criminally charged with possession, distribution, and promotion of child pornography. Children can be criminally charged and detained for upwards of TWENTY YEARS and since this is still a “new” matter, in many jurisdictions Judges have been quick to make examples of some offenders! Don’t for a moment think that couldn’t be your child. You do NOT want your child to be used as an example for the next twenty years — and life even, that is, if they are being charged as a sex offender and has to register as such for the remainder of their life. Let me say that again, if your child is convicted of sexting, many states are still requiring they register as a sex offender! Can you imagine your child forty years from now having to be listed as a sex offender because they received and/or sent nude photos when they were a teen? How would that effect the rest of their life, your grandchildren’s lives even? This is serious.
“A teenager who takes a naked picture of themselves and
sends it to another teen, has technically committed 3 felony crimes.”
How Sexting Can Lead to Teen Suicide:
Finally, as a parent, please, also know that sexting has another serious matter attached to it. If your child falls victim of a distribution attack (meaning, if they send a photo to someone and that person distributes it to other teens and is ridiculed) you may also be dealing with depression and suicide. If your child is the victim of sexting bullying please, DO NOT tell your child it is “their fault, they shouldn’t have sent those pictures” and then let them be. Please be proactive and put them on suicide watch and take whatever steps necessary to remove them from bullying situations. Change schools, homeschool, close old social media accounts and create new ones; whatever you need to do to make the bullying stop.
“Jessica Logan, Sycamore High student who committed suicide in 2009 after she sent a
nude photo of herself to a classmate, who forwarded it to other students.”
Stay in the Know:
U.S. Sexting Laws and Regulations — This is a must! You need to know exactly what the legal implications are for this act so you can fully explain them to your child. Additionally, this resource explains how pedophiles are obtaining sexting photos and using them to blackmail children into performing sexual acts, meeting in person.
Read “My Child’s Not ‘Sexting’; Are You Sure? by The Christian Post. This article explains the differences between “vamping” and “sexting” and provides parenting discussion ideas from a Christian perspective.
How Sexting Leads to Bullying by Very Well Family.
Disclaimer: The views shared in other articles by resources linked herein may or may not be the views of Mommy’s Playbook. Each article referenced is considered individually as I did not read every article on the linked websites as a whole. (i.e. I may not share another website’s views on political or sensitive topics.)