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What are the possible consequences of teen sexting?

There are emotional and legal consequences associated with sexting.

Emotionally sexting can take a toll on a person, especially if it backfires and gets into the wrong hands. Teens have a unique ability to feel like they're invincible. So, even though they may know that sexting is wrong, they don't think they're going to get caught.

Also sexting may lead to bullying for the teen whose photos have been solicited to others. This creates a harsh world for a teen to live. Oftentimes they don't reach out for help because of embarrassment and disappointment, fear of making it worse or fear of getting into trouble. To many teens they may feel like they're caught in a trap with no way out.

Sexting can compromise reputations. Not just social reputations but digital reputations can take a hit. Once a photo is out, there's no way of knowing how many people have saved it, tagged it, shared it, etc. Unfortunately the photo could re-surface years after it was taken and posted. Plus, more and more college reps and prospective employers are seeking information about candidates and they're doing this online. What they find online could sway their decision about whether or not the person lands the job or gets accepted into the school of his/her dreams.

Legally
Once again the law is behind technology. In 2011 - 21 US states passed legislation related to sexting. In 2012, at least 13 states so far are considering bills or resolutions aimed at "sexting."

Know the sexting laws in your state:
http://im.about.com/od/sexting/United_States_Sexting_Laws.htm
www.ncsl.org/issues-research/telecom/sexting-legislation-2012.aspx

Shawn Edgington
Pediatrician

The second a child hits the "send" button or uploads a photo to the Internet that includes a "sext" (a sexual text message or sexually explicit photo that is delivered by text message), serious consequences that can result are:

  • Potential to be arrested and charged for child pornography
  • Requirement to register as a sex offender
  • Humiliation among peers because a once-private photo was posted online and/or forwarded to others
  • Injuries, suicides and attacks can be the end result
  • Attraction of stalkers/online predators
  • Hazing/name-calling
  • Sexual harassment, textual harassment or sextortion
  • Possible expulsion from school

Sexting is practiced more often than you think. Teens (and adults) have been arrested for sending explicit photos of children by text or for posting them online. Make it a habit to monitor photos on your child's cell phone, mobile device and social media sites such as Facebook, MySpace or any other social media outlet to which your teen belongs.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.