Is Sexting Legal or Illegal? – Things Parents Should Know
Is Sexting Legal or Illegal?
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Unless it is a personal choice, practically everyone (10.5 years +) has a communication device with a camera installed on it, as long as you can read and write. There is no denying how smartphones have made interactions way more comfortable and fun. But we can't turn a blind eye to the cons that have come with the invention of these smart gadgets. Sexting, is one such trouble, among teens and underage kids who should otherwise be playing house in flowery gardens.
Now, what is sexting? Sexting is a word made from two other words, sex and texting. It means sharing sexually explicit messages between two parties. It can be in the form of texts, pictures, or videos of the concerned party or someone else shared via phones, PCs, or tablets, hence easily accomplished.
So, is sexting illegal? It is a crucial matter and is in the grey area when it comes to legally addressing it.
In this article, we will try to clear the air. We shall look at some of the sexting laws in U.S. states and how parents can tackle the issue with their teens. Keep scrolling!
Part 1: Which Type of Sexting is Illegal?
With the widespread use of electronic communication tools, sexting has become a usual way of interacting around the world. However, there are instances when it is a significant legal concern with serious repercussions.
Below are situations when sexting is illegal:
- Distribution of sexts without consent: this is when a person shares nude pictures of another person without asking their permission. In many states, this is put under revenge porn and has serious consequences.
- Child pornography: when an underage person (below 18 years) shares nude photos of themselves or a fellow youngster;
- If these photos get shared with an adult, he/she is subject to being charged with possession of child pornography.
- Also, when an adult sends nude images of a minor, they can be charged with distribution of child pornography.
- When the sexting is between two consenting minors, the consequences are not severe. The concerned persons do not get prosecuted with possession of child pornography.
- Harassing, Stalking, and Bullying: sexting has wreaked havoc among kids and led to others committing suicide. Especially when they realize that their nude pics were shared publicly without their knowledge by someone they trusted. A leading cause of cyber-bullying, stalking, and harassment in minors accessing the Internet with their electronic devices.
- Adults who send nude photos of themselves to minors get charged with child molestation and harassment. These charges are not limited to just when minors are involved but also between two adults.
- Inappropriate sexting at work: n the employment setting, when someone gets unwanted sexts, he/she reports to the HR personnel. The sender of the sexts is accused of sexual harassment and faces serious prosecution in court.
With these adverse effects of sexting in the young and old alike, there are sexting laws, in particular states, put in place to protect kids and punish culprits accordingly. Let us look at some teen sexting laws in U.S. states.
- An adult who sends or receives sexually explicit material from a minor subject to prosecution under federal law.
- Teenagers who create and share sexually explicit images of themselves are practically producing, distributing, and possessing child pornography.
- Anyone, despite their age, can be prosecuted if they are caught distributing or possessing nudes of minors.
- In Arizona State, if consenting juveniles get caught sexting, they can be found guilty of a petty offense of class 3 misdemeanor. Adults, 18 years +, found sexting with a minor gets charged under Arizona's child pornography laws.
- California prosecutes anyone who creates, distributes, or possesses sexually explicit images of minors under child pornography laws.
Now that we have looked at five primary laws on sexting, what can teen parents do to keep their blossoming adults in check? Next, we look at how parents can talk about sexting with their kids. It gets more interesting!
Part 2: How Do Parents Talk With Their Kids About Sexting?
As a parent who finds out about their kid's sexting behavior, your first move would be to ground them for god-knows-how-long and take away their phone, right?
Wrong! Restrain yourself, take a deep breath, be the adult that you are and save your relationship with your offspring, with the guidelines below.
First, create a suitable environment for the teen to feel comfortable to talk about sexting freely with you, and make them aware of the consequences. I am not promising it will be an easy task, but it is worth every effort and minute spent on it.
Here we go:
- Find out their thoughts on sexting
Before telling them what you know and think about sexting, play the fool and let them educate you about it. Listen intently and respond in empathy as this will help them come to terms with the repercussions of sexting.
- Create a free space
Unfortunately, there are many instances in the media for sexting gone viral and ruining the lives of concerned people emotionally, mentally, career-wise, and socially. Use these to teach your teen to be alert and assertive. Discuss safety in relationships and how to develop trust in a relationship. Be in awe with them about what would drive someone to take nude pics of themselves and share them with someone else!
- Be in the loop and stay informed
Thank heavens you are not battling this alone. Schools are also fighting sext in connection with cyber-bullying. Many times, teens who sext feel mocked, lured, or blackmailed into the behavior and end up getting bullied for it. Attend parent-teacher meetings and use info from here to start up a conversation on sexting with your teen at home. Also, during the school meetings, approach and discuss with other parents about how to incorporate social media etiquette among their teens.
- Assist your teenager to develop healthy boundaries in their boy-girl relationships
Just like you advised them not to talk to strangers, or how to take care of themselves during the stages of growth and development, the same way you need to address sexting. Tell him/her why sexting is not all fun as it is said to be, and nobody should pressure them into it. Make it clear to them the harsh consequences of sending, receiving, or distributing teen sexts in the form of pics and videos.
- Break down the sexting talk
How you talk to them about sexting is very crucial. Getting teens to sit down through a long lecture about sexting won't bear any fruits. Therefore, plan it out, and talk in stages, make it random small talks, informative and exciting to drive points home. Talk about how they can avoid succumbing to peer pressure and instead create awareness about sexting and cyber-bullying among fellow teens.
It doesn't hurt to have reinforcement put in place. To back-up the sext pep talks with your teen, you can always have a third eye on your teen's phone to follow up on what's up, right? Damn right! That's why we look at the perfect software to help you do just that. Find out below.
Part 3: How Can Parents Prevent?
FamiSafe is the ideal parental control app. It helps monitor cyber-bullying, location tracking, blocking apps, filtering websites, controlling how much time spent on the phone, and monitoring messages. Thus you can manage sexting in teens.
Let us look at its features in detail.
- Suspicious SMS alert and cyber-bullying/sexting prevention:
With this app, parents can create suspicious words list and get alerts when there's a potential cyberbullying risk. For example, sexually explicit content in the form of texts and pics/videos sent or received, harassment, and stalking activity on their kid's phone.
- GPS tracking and geo-fencing
With this feature, you can monitor the whereabouts of your teen, see if they have been in unusual localities, and create a safe zone with the geofencing option. It lets you know when the kid enters or strays away from the geo-fences.
- Activity monitoring and app blocking
Stay in touch with the most used apps, recently installed and uninstalled apps, and what exactly your kid does on their mobile phone. In case of any harmful apps and inappropriate activity on the phone, you can block particular apps.
- Filtering web content
It allows you to prevent pornographic sites, gaming, gambling sites besides other harmful material that your teen could visit on their phone out of curiosity or peer pressure. A pep talk should follow to make them understand why it's immoral and inappropriate to browse such sites and the consequences after that.
- Controlling and tracking screen time
Due to the digital generation that wants to stay glued to their screens 24/7, it is imperative to have kid's screen time monitored real close. This feature enables you to set time limits to bar kids from using their phones while studying or during their sleep time, also, in particular places like school, dining room, or places of worship.
- Customization and flexible remote control
You don't have to wait until when your kids are not looking or when they are asleep to find out their phone activity. With FamiSafe, once installed on your kid's phone, you can customize the settings on your phone to suit your monitoring errands comfortably.
Finally, it is a great thing to have sexting laws put in place to address illegal sexting situations. It is a relief to you as a teen parent in this time and era when sexting is so prevalent in society and affecting teens in awful ways.
Also, in this article, we give a guideline on how to tackle sexting among teens in the most effective and not awkward way. It is best to start the sext talks early enough before the kids are pressured to or get suspicious to find out about sexting on their own. And if they are already sexting and you just found out, all hope is not lost. There is plenty of room to make things right and make them understand the repercussions and severe effects of sending, receiving, and distributing nudes with/without consent.
Lastly, feel free to try FamiSafe in keeping your kid safe from digital dangers.