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A new study has found that a mind-boggling 20% of teens – one in every five – are engaging in ‘sexting’ – the act of sending nude pictures of themselves to others via cell phone.
That’s something to think about the next time you see a gaggle of 10 teens at the mall.
Actually, the 20% is an average. The study found that 22% of teen girls engage in sexting, while ‘only’ 18% of teen boys send naughty pictures of themselves – at least via cell phone.
While some may not think that this is worth making a big deal about, it’s an activity that can have serious consequences.
Just a few months ago, a teen girl was arraigned on felony child pornography charges for sending nude pictures of herself to her classmates. In addition to whatever sentence she receives, she may have to spend the next 20 years of her life registering as a sex offender wherever she goes.
Beyond the unquestionably serious nature of felony charges is the issue of the persistance of these images – which can have far-reaching ramifications that simply don’t occur to typically short-sighted teens.
A case in point is the very sad case of Jesse Logan. The Ohio teen had sent a nude picture of herself from her cell phone to her high school boyfriend’s cell phone. After they broke up, her ex-boyfriend shared that picture with others – meaning that they carried that same picture of a naked Jesse on their own cell phones.
Jesse received so much harrassment as a result of her picture being passed around that she eventually hung herself in her bedroom, where her unsuspecting mother discovered her.
It’s a serious activity, giving rise to serious issues that can have serious consequences. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children says that of 2,100 children that it has identified as victims of online pornography, fully 25% of them had initially sent the pornographic image themselves.
And as technology evolves – and rapidly – you can expect that it will only get worse.
So if you have a teen, it’s time to update that talk to “the birds, the bees, and the cell phones.”