Surprised teen talking to parent

Sexting Part 5-What to Say If Your Kid Has Been Sexting (continued)

In There's a Stranger in My House by Dr James Wellborn

Talk about the risks.  Here’s the list.

Sending pictures of yourself when you are younger than 18 is distributing pornography.  Having a picture of yourself stored on a phone, computer, etc. (or recoverable from the secret, undeleted areas of things you have deleted on your device) is possession of child pornography.  Having pictures of your sext buddy who is under the age of 18 is possession of child pornography.  A sext buddy having images of themselves or of you (if you are underage) is possession of child pornography.  Accepting nude pictures of someone who is under the age of 18 sent to you by your friends or acquaintances is possessing child pornography.  If you are over the age of 18 and send nude images to someone under the age of 18 it is a form of child sexual abuse.  If you are over the age of 18 and receive nude images of someone under the age of 18 it is solicitation of a minor for sexual purposes.  All sexting roads lead to child pornography and a big, unholy mess.  They are all felonies.  In Tennessee, the law does not distinguish between minors and adults in the solicitation or possession of child pornography.  If you are over 18, you are very likely to be prosecuted and will very likely have to register as a sex offender. (Innocent mistakes can lead to plea arrangements but you can’t count on it.)  If you are under 18, it is not so straight forward but there will be discussions by law enforcement personnel about prosecutions and the possibility of having to register as a sex offender.

If you haven’t already run screaming into your child’s room, snatched the cell phone from their hands, smashed the computer on the floor and confiscated all the other devices that take photos or have contact with the outside world, here are a few other risks from sexting.

The person who gets the sexts may distribute them among their peers.  Maybe they are sharing something personal with a close friend.  Maybe they are bragging.  Maybe they tried to see if they could trick you into sexting.  Maybe they are mad at you and want revenge.  Maybe they just want to hurt you because they are that kind of person.  Whatever the reason, it can have a really serious effect on your reputation.  It can lead to some people being kind of scared to be around you.  It can lead to some people not wanting to be seen as someone who hangs with a person who lets just anyone see them naked.  There will definitely be people who will ridicule, insult and harass you.

The person who gets the sext can misunderstand why you are sending it.  They can actually think that you must not care much about whether other people see you naked since you sent it over the internet.  They may wonder if you send these to just anyone.  It may start to seem less personal.

When you sext someone, they may think you are the kind of person who does sexual things with whoever. They may want to be with you to see if you will do sexual things with them.  People who are not ready to be sexual in a relationship will be intimidated and afraid to date you because you might want to do sexual things before they are ready.  Or, they may think they are not experienced enough to be with you.

Sexting is a big risk if you do it for the wrong reasons.  Are you sharing something very intimate with someone you know and trust very well?  Are you trying to interest another person in you (before you know for sure they are interested in you)?  Are you trying to shock someone?  Are you doing it to feel sexy?  Are you doing it to try to attract someone?  Are you trying to prove something?  Are you giving in to pressure from someone?  When you sext for these reasons, you often end up feeling bad, exposed and vulnerable.  It can even make you feel kind of dirty.  Sometimes, you can even end up thinking it doesn’t matter anymore (if the person you sexted showed it around).  Then you can start digging a hole that is very difficult to get back out of without a lot of embarrassment and shame.  You can even end up feeling like it is your fault and you deserve it.

Sexting is personal without being personal.  Intimacy is something personal shared between people.  Sexual intimacy is something very personal shared between people.  Sexting cheapens the personal, intimate aspect of sharing a physical part of yourself with someone.

Sexting, like sex, can change the focus of even a really good relationship.  It can shift the focus to the sexual part rather than the relationship part.  Conversations can start to focus on sending more pictures or what else you will do rather than relating to each other about feelings and what is going on in your life.  Even someone who cares a lot about you can get distracted by sexting/sex.  It can cause a lot of misunderstanding and tension that could ruin the relationship.

Sexting skips a very big step.  If you are going to share a personal, physical part of yourself with someone it should be in person; something just for the two of you.  Sexting can sometimes lead to your or your sexting partner feeling kind of awkward and confused.  Sharing physical intimacy in person helps you see how the other person is reacting, helps you go at a pace both of you are comfortable with and lets you stop because you can read someone’s reaction better in person.

Sexting can really embarrass, worry and disappoint your parents (or your GRANDMOTHER).  If problems occur, it is more difficult to talk to your parents because you know they would disapprove.  You are kind of stuck when you need their help the most.

(Here  is a site your kid might find instructive along with other forms of what is called digital abuse.  This British video may be worth watching together.)

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