Sexting and Bullying One In The Same | Crime

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Sexting and Bullying One In The Same
Sexting and Bullying One In The Same

Sexting and Bullying One In The Same

Expanding bullying into the area of Sexting has brought this debatable crime more
into the light of law enforcement and cyber investigation. The reality is that one in
five tweens/teens/young adults maybe risking prison because of sending and
receiving child pornography. This includes risking a life of prison because of
distributing nude or semi nude pictures of themselves.

Cell/Smart phone technology has contributed to the ability to transmit pictures and
video that normally would not be accessible. Youth have learned the empowerment
of technology, but applying it in inappropriate means because of immaturity, sexual
activity and peer pressure.

Parents need to understand that youth with cell phones are not restricted from sending,
receiving or further distribution of nude or seminude pictures. If a youth willingly or
unwillingly is photographed partially nude, semi nude or totally nude that is under
18 and those pictures are distributed electronically it is against the law.

Even though the circumstances may seem trivial to youth and young adults the results
can be devastating to a young person and their reputations within school, community
and even where they religiously worship, their reputations can be destroyed.
Surveys show that of 1,280 teenagers and young adults surveyed by the National
Campaign to Prevent Teenage and Unplanned Pregnancy and CosmoGirl.com
found that 20 percent of teenagers and 33 percent of young adults ages 20 to 26
said they had sent or posted nude or seminude photos of themselves.
http://www.thenationalcampaign.org/sextech/PDF/SexTech_Summary.pdf

This survey may seem hard to believe, but the information holds true and seems to
be growing because of the increase in cell phone use by tweens, teens and young adults.
The survey does show parents and guardians that tweens, teens and young adults should
never be underestimated or perceived as naive or technology illiterate. It is customary
for youth to teach each other the latest skills, hacks, hints and codes that allow for more
flexibility and manipulation of technology, even cell/smart phone technology.
Parents should be aware that their youth may have a sexual inquisitiveness, subjected
to bad judgment, influenced by peer pressure and love of electronic sharing especially
with pictures they take. When these elements are combined sometimes it is a dangerous
combination of technology and raging hormones.

Parents, especially if they are paying the cell phone bill should periodically without notice
check the bill online for activity, this can show texts sent and received, photos, video
and other important information. Parents should occasionally physically check phones
for content, if a child refuses to give their phone when asked this is a red flag that
something is not right and the parent should investigate further, not allowing the
child to escape with a warning. Information can be deleted from the phone, but records
still housed on servers can be accessed.

The sharing of pictures and video can result from girls wanting to impress their boyfriends
with nude or seminude pictures, the same holds true of boys that want to show their
physical attributes to impress their girlfriend or resulting from a dare from friends.
One of the most dangerous issues is tweens, teens and young adults looking for
“hook ups” or “booty calls.” Requesting sex in school (bathrooms), at home when parents
are away, even has been found that teens try to get together during church.

When law enforcement becomes involved this is where the misuse of technology can
create legal problems that can have lifelong consequences. Deterring youth from being
involved in Sexting helps with proper education and having high expectations and
consequences that are followed.  

It’s illegal under federal and state child-porn laws to create explicit images of a minor,
possessing them or distributing them. These laws were created to tackle adult abuse
of minors, but it turns out they don’t exempt minors who create and distribute
images, pictures and video. Prosecutors even in some states are going after victims
as well because there is a responsibility factor that no one should allow nude or
seminude pictures to be taken of them.

In criminal courts losing children could be imprisoned or be labeled for life.
Mark Rasch, a former cybercrime prosecutor for U.S. Justice Department, says
that a 16-year-old with a standard story of she took a bunch of pictures of herself
and sent them to a boy electronically in the hopes of seducing him could get life in
federal prison under current sentencing guidelines (http://www.sentencing.us/).
If she does manage to get out, she may have to register as a sex offender and those
that receive and continue to distribute will be prosecuted and also have to register
under federal guidelines. This has far reaching affects on a youth’s future of gaining
entrance into higher education, joining the military, vocational school, and
establishing a family in the future.

If in fact a youth is convicted at 16 in 2011 for example, in the year 2022, a 27 year
old person is still a registered sex offender because of a camera-phone picture snapped
in 2011. Parents have a responsibility to educate and monitor their children when
providing cell phone technology. No parent should give a child cell/smart phones
and leave them to their own devices. Rules and expectations should be enforced
to prevent texting inappropriate content and Sexting.

Parents and their children when talking about the seriousness of Sexting and Texting
should discuss rules to be sure of the responsibility and accountability technology requires.
Cases of youth involved in encounters with adult males have been in the news media
for several years. Three Florida girls were killed Jessica Lunsford (9), Carlie Brucia (11)
 and Sarah Lunde (13); these young ladies were abducted and killed by men who
were involved in online child pornography. Parents need to make sure they know
what sites their children visit, who they are friends with online and people in their
neighborhoods. Predators are online targeting children, trafficking images of sexual
abuse of children and trying to gain children’s trust through online friendships. This
has a connection with Sexting because once pictures and video is sent no one really
knows who will forward it to whom. Youth are naïve and immature to the knowledge
that anyone, at anytime can find their pictures online when performing a simple search.

Jay Howell a Jacksonville lawyer founded the National Center for Missing and Exploited
Children. Mr. Howell states, “The Internet is the superhighway of child exploitation, and
the willingness of those who are hidden, to surface online has been incredible.”
Cyberbullying, Sexting, Texting and involvement in social media sites create a new
danger for tweens, teens, youth and young adults. Parental guidance, responsibility and
accountability is needed more now than ever before. The conclusion of Bullying Prevention
month (October) is soon, but the ramifications and dangers of these elements continues.
Parents must be diligent and informed to keep their children from birth even into young
adulthood safe.

Data and statistics can be found at:
The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and CosmoGirl.com
http://www.thenationalcampaign.org/sextech/PDF/SexTech_Summary.pdf

William Jackson, M.Ed.
Duval County Public Schools – duvalschools.org/
Edward Waters College – ewc.edu/
jacksonw@duvalschools.org

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