Sexting Dangers Abound

Tyla Fuller, Reporter

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Teens around the world do not realize that many things that they do with others is not safe and can get people in trouble. One of those things is sexting. Sexting among minors and anyone under 18 is a crime which can be identified as Child Pornography or Possession of a Sexually Explicit photo. Many people in society aren’t aware of how real and dangerous this crime is, or what the repercussions would be if they were to be caught.

Sexting is sending sexually explicit messages, photos or a video through any electronic devices. Sending nude photos is more common among teenage girls according to The website states that 22% of teen girls are reported sending images of this nature, while only 18% of teenage boys have.

What most people didn’t know is that teen sexting laws prohibit both the sending and receiving of any type of explicit images. A Teen Sexting Criminal Defense Lawyer article states, “It isn’t really possible to prevent someone else from sending you a photo. And because of that, sexting laws typically prohibit ‘receiving and keeping’ any type of explicit images.”

In many schools the consequences are very serious. Sexting can also be threats through any explicit images.

“It has happened recently and a lot of what I deal with, has to do with social media and if the issue worsens, most times the police are notified if it involves minors,” says Dean Eyler, “That’s also something that the student resource officers can be brought into if it is distributing child pornography.”

There are some questions as to why students would engage in this behavior knowing the risks and of course there are reasons behind it.

“It could be for reputation and other parts of it could be that it stems from home life and family, but its a part of being young, growing up and many students don’t really think of how much trouble it can get them in,” Eyler continues, “Just to have it be understood about how bad it is, we should educate them.”

Sexting underage is a serious crime and there are penalties, within the school district, and outside of the school.  If a student in this school is caught sexting there will be a parent notification, counseling, possible suspension and possibly repercussions from notification of police.

According to the website, which advocates for parental responsibility of a child’s mobile phone, “Under the new [New Jersey] law teenagers who are caught sending sexually explicit images with their cell phones will not be subject to the State’s child pornography laws with respect to their first offense. In general, minors caught sexting would have to attend a state sponsored program where he or she would learn about the potential state and federal legal consequences and penalties associated with sexting, which technically amounts to distribution of child pornography. Teens who are not minors, or if it is not a teens first offense, will generally not be eligible for the educational program.”

Some students at Piscataway High School are informed about what happens if someone sexting were to get caught, even if it is between students who are in a relationship.

Freshman Colette Ochido says, “My definition of [sexting during a] consensual relationship is when two people are sending inappropriate pictures to each other and if you are caught doing it or leaking any pictures that were sent to you, your phone could be confiscated and it would be considered child pornography.”

Photo by Maurizio Pesce (Flickr)

However, not everyone who attends PHS is informed of the laws and still participate in the sending or receiving of inappropriate snaps, photos, or messages. Not only does it happen among teenagers, but adults might participate in this behavior as well.

Dean Eyler says, “This is common with adults too because most who work in a public place where a lot of both females and males are. It is a possibility that sexually explicit images can be shared in a working environment. You would understand that just like younger females, these adult females would be afraid of speaking up as well [if they were sent material unsolicited].”

Just like in the beginning, it can be happening all around and most who know it is wrong can be completely unaware that this behavior is practiced among high schoolers.

Ochido states, “Yes I have received some inappropriate pictures from other people and it has happened to my sister, but I know that if it gets serious I can always go to her for the best advice because it easier to go to someone that has already been through it and dealt with it and would help me get through it easier.”

It takes a lot for people to come up to trustworthy people and be able to open about this kind of topic because most are afraid of how much trouble they can get into, or might not want to be judged for it.   The act of sexting can sometimes be related to sexual harassment or sexual assault.

“I was the anti-bullying specialist for about 3 years and I’ve only heard about it maybe 2-3 times. It doesn’t happen often in terms of physically touching, but it can be more with social media,” says special ed teacher and former dean Stephanie Rogers, “The only real incident I remember is where students, male and female, are dating one another and the female sent a picture and then the male forwarded it to someone else which can be reported as inappropriate behavior, and be put on the sex offenders list.”

School officials want to make sure that students remain as safe and informed as they can be.

“There are numerous ways to let students know that this kind of behavior isn’t good, so what we do is we educate them as best as we can to let them know why it isn’t good, we could run assembly’s, have counseling sessions, or have most of them enter programs throughout the curriculum for prevention of any consequences going towards sexual behavior,” Rogers explains.