What is Sexting?

"Sexting" involves a person sending sexually-charged material via cell phone text messages or posting such materials online. Another example is when another person takes an inappropriate picture of someone's body or body parts, with that person's permission, and sends it to others. On March 11, 2009, Texas Attorney General, Greg Abbott, was in Amarillo, Texas and he stated that "20% of teens are sexting."

Legal Consequences

If a minor, under the age of 17, takes a pornographic picture of him/herself and forwards the picture via cell phone or email to someone else, that person forwards the picture to others, then all people involved could face federal criminal charges. The penalty is up to 20 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000. (Source: Vega, Texas District Attorney's Office)

What if my child DID NOT give his/her permission for the picture to be taken?

Video taping or taking pictures of people without their knowledge or permission in a bathroom or dressing room is illegal and is considered a felony. It is punishable by a state jail term of 180 days up to 2 years and a fine of up to $10,000. (Source: TX Penal Code: 21.15)

What can I do as a parent?

  • Inform your child of the consequences of engaging in this behavior and that you do not want them to get involved in it.
  • Let your child know that once this picture is taken and send online or by text, many people will see it and the picture can never be retrieved or taken back.
  • If someone else sends your child a pornographic picture, save it in a file, but do not print it! Please contact the local police department and a police officer will come to your home to help you file a report.
  • Google your child's name in quotations to see if there is anything posted about your child on the Internet.
  • Search for their cell phone number on line.
  • Download Google Desktop, this is a free program that can help you find photos and videos on their computers.

Perry Aftab is an Internet Safety Expert and her site has a lot of good supplemental information if you believe that your child is participating in "Sexting." http://www.aftab.com/

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