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What is "Sexting?"

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texting gay teens
Image (c) Brandon Christopher Warren
Question: What is "Sexting?"
Answer:

"Sexting" refers to sending sexual pictures or messages via text or picture messages.

Recently, there have been some high profile cases involving teens. In fact, according to The American Prospect,

"In Greensburg, Pennsylvania, prosecutors charged six teenagers with creating, distributing, and possessing child pornography. The three girls, ages 14 and 15, took nude or semi-nude pictures of themselves and e-mailed them to friends."

Now the charges were a pretty harsh reaction, but this isn't a totally isolated case. There are a lot of reasons these teens were charged with a crime beyond the fact that, strictly speaking, what they did was illegal.

Many people are simply uncomfortable with teen expressions of sexuality.

Additionally, despite the fact that a recent study found that the threat to kids from pedophiles lurking online was pretty minor, there is a fear that somehow a sexual predator would come across pictures of minors and use them for illicit purposes.

In my mind, these reasons are not valid for charging teens as child pornographers.

That being said, there are some pretty good reasons not to text or email naked pictures of yourself to others, no matter how close you are, and even if you are in a serious relationship.

Here are a few:

  • Once you hit send, the contents of your message are out of your control.
  • You picture could be forwarded, saved or posted at any time now or in the future.
  • If you break-up with a partner, or get into a fight with a friend, that person could share your picture with other people as a form of revenge.
  • Though you might feel comfortable sharing a naked picture with someone today, you might feel really differently tomorrow.
  • As the teens in Greensburg learned, "sexting" can get you in a lot of trouble, both with your parents, and in some cases, even with the law!

There's nothing wrong with expressing your sexuality, but it is important to think about how you are doing so before you make choices that can have long lasting consequences.

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