You have heard of “sexting”. It’s when texting other other messaging contains sexual messages, pictures, or videos.
Technology is pretty amazing. It allows us to stay in touch and share news, ideas, and images anytime anywhere. But all that sharing comes with risks.
Sexting is one of the risks. Why is sexting unsafe? Once you send or post a sext you can’t control it. Privacy is not guaranteed. A sext meant for just one person can easily be seen by or shared with others. This may happen when:
- a relationship ends
- others get access to a friend’s phone or other device
- a person’s account gets hacked
A sext can cause embarrassment and humiliation by accident or on purpose. Information can last FOREVER online. It may be copied or re-posted and viewed for years to come.
Dangers of sexting
- Change person’s opinion of you-You may end up with an unwanted reputation or someone may expect more from you sexually.
- Cause emotional pain- A sext that gets into the wrong hands can clearly be embarrassing. But it can also lead to painful bullying, sexual harassment, or even blackmail. any of these can cause serious stress and anxiety or depression.
- Hurt your future- Schools and employers often search online for information about applicants. A sext you thought was long gone could still be on the Internet and could cost you a big opportunity.
- Get you in serious trouble-Students caught sexting may be suspended or expelled or have notes added to their school records. Some have faced serious legal charges. In Texas, it is a felony to possess child pornography and to distribute child pornography. For example, someone takes a selfie of themselves in the nude (possession of child pornography) and then sends it to their partner (distribution of child pornography). This person has committed two felonies and the person they sent it to now has a felony.
- Attract sexual predators-Think sexting someone you only know online is safe? Not so. With just your online profile, a predator may be able to find you in person.
Think before you share any message, image, or video.
- Would I want my parents, grandparents, teachers, pastor, coaches, future college, or employer to see this?
- Would I feel comfortable saying or showing this in person or in public?
If the answer is no to either of these questions, then your answer should be no to sharing.
Rise above the pressure.
You don’t have to give in to any pressure to sext! You could:
- Just say “NO!”
- Give a reason like “It’s not worth the risk.”
- Send a different message that you feel is OK.
If you get sexted
Know the do’s and don’ts
Don’t respond. Whether or not you know the person, never respond to any inappropriate message.
DON’T pass it on. Remember, forwarding a sext can also get you in trouble. It can make you responsible for the sext’s content as the person who first sent it. In Texas it is a felony to possess child pornography and to distribute child pornography.
DO tell a trusted adult right away. Tell a parent, teacher, counselor, police officer, or Victim Services. They can make the decisions as to what to do next and when to delete the message.