Posts Tagged ‘Internet Safety’

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Sexting is “the sending and/or receiving of sexually explicit text messages, photos, images, videos, or emails via SMS or other instant messaging services as well as on social media,” according to dictionary.com.

Sexting is pornography.

Teens and children sexting is child pornography.

“Sexting has actually become a major problem in society,” states Fight the New Drug.  “The truth is, sexting and porn are inseparably linked. And in many cases, it equals child pornography. That’s right, by law, minors (anyone under 18) who are caught sending, possessing, or distributing (i.e. sharing with friends) nude pictures, can face major criminal charges. It has gotten to the point in the U.S. where 8 states have enacted bills to protect minors from sexting, and an additional 13 states have proposed bills to legislation.”

For example, in 2015, the LASD Human Trafficking Bureau and its co-located partners in the Los Angeles Regional Task Force on Human Trafficking investigated 519 cases that involved nude photos of girls and boys as young as 8 years old.

Children as young as eight have been found sending sexually explicit content of themselves or others, using cell phones, mobile devices, and laptop webcams. Those same images are all being shared on third-party pornography websites as well.

Often, the person in the photo or video has taken no steps to conceal his or her identity or location. In many cases, they use their real names.

The Dangers of Sexting

Once a picture or video has been shared, it’s almost impossible to remove it later. Even with the use of Snapchat, screenshots can be taken and shared before the image is deleted.

If a person is under 18 sends a sexually explicit message/photograph, he or she is creating and distributing child pornography.

Whether an individual creates, distributes, or views child pornography, it is a crime.

Eight students at a high school in Pennsylvania learned this the hard way. Ranging from ages 13 to 17, the teens were all accused of “using their cell phones to take, send, or receive nude photos of each other and in one case a short video of oral sex. That resulted in a felony child pornography charge for each minor.”

Unfortunately, news stories like this are very common.

Moreover, the criminal records often stay with these kids, and they risk being forced to register as sex offenders for the rest of their lives. Sexting is an ugly crime that makes a permanent mark on offenders’ records.

Worse of all, child predators and child porn collectors often find these images and further distribute them to others.

Signs Your Child May Be a Victim of Online Sexual Exploitation

If you observe any of the signs below, while it may be difficult, talk to your child about sex and pornography. It is crucial to protect your child from online exploitation.

  • Spending increasing amounts of time on the Internet
  • Becoming increasingly secretive—particularly around their use of technology
  • Shutting the door and hiding what they have on screen when someone enters the room. Not being able to talk openly about their activity online. Showing agitated behavior when answering their cell phone and needing to take the call in private
  • Developing a pattern of leaving the home for periods of time with no explanation of where they are going
  • Vague talk of a new friend but offering no further information.

–List courtesy of Love146

Crucial Stats About Sexting

  • 40% of today’s teens are involved in sending and receiving sexually suggestive messages through the use of [cell phones], and most of them think it’s no big deal.
  • Sexting can lead to revenge porn. The sending of sexually explicit pictures or videos of everyday people to revenge porn websites to be viewed, downloaded, and saved by millions.
  • Send This Instead has a creative alternative to sexting inquiries.
  • 17% of sexters share the messages they receive with others often sharing with more than one person.

Five Steps for Protecting Your Children From Sexting

  1. Talk to your children about what they are doing online as well as offline. Discuss sexting, online bullying, and peer pressure.
  2. Remind your child that once something is posted on the Internet it can never be removed. Ask what will happen to the suggestive photos sent to their boyfriend/girlfriend if they break up? A good rule of thumb is to never post a picture you’d be embarrassed to share with your parents.
  3. Know who your child is friends with online. If you need to, hack their IM buddy list, social networking friends, and mobile device contact list.
  4. Consider placing limits. Parental controls on mobile and Internet devices can help protect sexually explicit images from getting into your child’s inbox. Many mobile carriers offer plans limiting the amount and types of texts your child can send.
  5. Set expectations. Let your child know where you stand on what behavior is acceptable and what is not. Set clear boundaries and consequences.

Now that you’ve educated yourself about the dangers of sexting, pass this information on to everyone you know that has a child, is a child, or works with children. Education is the first step to eradicating this danger to our vulnerable youth.