When someone sends a “sext,” they may know who they are sending the picture or message to, but what they may not know is how many people will actually see it.
According to Dosomething.org, 17% of sexters share the messages they receive with others, and 55% of those share them with more than one person.
Studies, from the same website, also show that females partake in sexting more often than males do, but whoever it is that is involved, may face the consequences that it comes with. People often think sending explicit messages or pictures is morally wrong but what people don’t usually realize is that sexting is illegal for minors.
Punishments for minors who send sexts don’t necessarily require legal actions, but they do include the embarrassment and trauma of being caught. Receiving sexts voluntarily may include expulsion or suspension, or worse. Students may even be registered as a sex offender because this technically means that they are in possession of child pornography. Although that punishment may sound logical to some, to others it seems extreme, especially when a minor is the one facing this consequence.
“I feel like this is too harsh for a one time offender, you’re marked with a stigma for the rest of your life,” said Mr. Patrick Palmeter, the head of Saint Genevieve High School. “Obtaining child pornography is an offense and being labeled as a sex offender is appropriate if someone is a repeat offender, this is why people need to be educated.”
Studies on Ikeepsafe.org also show that 1-in-3 teens have participated in sexting and 1-in-4 thinks it’s a normal part of teen life.
The study claims that teens are educated on the legal consequences that come with sexting. Not only is sexting legally wrong for minors, but also for those of legal age that are involved in sexting with minors. For them it seems to be more evident that this action is wrong because any sexual actions between a minor and an adult is illegal.
Not only have problems of sexting been more evident in social media as teens “leak nudes” of others, but these actions may even be influenced by celebrities. Miley Cyrus, Dylan Sprouse, Kim Kardashian, and even Justin Bieber (involuntarily) are involved in this “trend,” which may be encouraging teens and making them think that this is appropriate.
As previously mentioned, Justin Bieber had naked pictures of himself leaked onto social media, involuntarily, meaning that the photos were taken without his consent. Even though he is not a minor, this called for legal actions since consent was not given. The same goes for a picture taken of a minor without consent; which has not been unheard of. Naked pictures of minors or adults have been leaked onto social media or have been sent to one or more people, and this is common; but this is what ties sexting to cyberbullying.
“I don’t think that parents educate their children about the consequences of sexting, but I really think that they should in order to prevent this and I think precautions should be taken so that people don’t have to go through being labeled as a sex offender or being mentally traumatized by the situation,” said Kara Gross, a counselor from CPLA.