The name of the new game is sexting and it is where teens send sexually explicit photos of themselves on the computer by email or over the cell phone waves in a text message. This hot new topic is causing grief for teens of all ages, and for the teen sending the pictures as well as the teen who receives them.
Again in the news is another story of a 15-year-old Pennsylvania girl facing child pornography charges after sending nude pictures of her to a 27-year-old male she met online through the social networking group MySpace. The girl faces charges of creating child pornography, possession, and distribution. She is luckily she is being charged as a minor or juvenile and not an adult, which would be a felony.
There have been many similar news stories across our nation in recent weeks:
� One story involves a 17 year old boy from Wisconsin who is facing charges of possessing child pornography after posting online nude pictures of an ex girlfriend.
� Another story involves four middle-school students from Alabama, who sent nude photos of themselves to each other. All four are facing child pornography charges.
� A third story involves a 16-year-old boy from New York who faces charges after sending pictures of his nude 15-year-old girl friend to his friends online.
The main culprit I believe is that almost every cell phone has a camera, and there are very few choices in cell phones without a camera. I have written for two years how cell phones with cameras are highly intrusive. There is no way to know when someone with a cell phone out in public is photographing you or your child. I do believe camera phones face banning from certain places. Cameras are easily manipulated by the user and can be used anywhere there is people.
Parents must talk to teens about the consequences that can arise out of sending a nude photo to a friend by sexting or email. Not only are teens facing a life of registering as a sex offender if convicted of child pornography charges, which is a felony, teens face prison, probation, problems getting into college and finding a job. Often employers will search the web prior to hiring a teen or young adult. What your MySpace, Face book, or responses are in a thread can say a lot about you.
Primarily the rule is once you place something out into cyberspace, it is virtually if not impossible to get it back off, ever. Think before you pose and send a picture to a friend. Stop and think about what might happen to that picture if that friendship ends unhappily. Respect yourself enough to say no to taking or sexting pictures of yourself. If you do not respect yourself in the morning, no one else will either.
Think before you click send on an email, picture, or text message you would not want your mother, father or grandmother to see or read. Sexting is not fun but dangerous and it can ruin a life. Please feel free to discuss this topic in the Missing & Exploited Free Forum.