Sexting is sending sexually explicit or sexually suggestive images and/or text via cell phones, email, webcams, instant messages or other forms of communication technology.
Adults, teens and children are all capable of sexting. However, possessing, distributing and/or creating sexually explicit images of persons under 18 years of age is illegal.
Sexting and the law
It is illegal to possess, distribute or create sexually explicit images involving anyone under 18 years of age. Minors can be charged with a crime if they take explicit photographs or images of themselves or anyone else under 18 years of age; transmit explicit images of anyone under 18 years old, including themselves, to anyone else, regardless of the age of the recipient; or possess an explicit image of anyone under 18 years of age, including themselves.
If you send and/or receive sexually explicit images of someone who might be under 18 years of age, including yourself, you should take your phone to a parent, school official and/or law enforcement officer.
Consequences of sexting
Once you click "send" online or on a phone, the image, text or video you sent may be nearly impossible to get back. Once digital, content can also be replicated and posted many times over, in many different places. Honor your dignity by not engaging in behavior that may come back to embarrass or hurt you in the future.
In many cases, recipients of compromising content may forward it on to others for revenge or in anger. Consider what might happen if your relationship ends or someone you trusted with sensitive content turns out to not be so trustworthy after all.
Employers and colleges are increasingly turning to the Internet to find information on potential recruits. What would happen if someone you were trying to impress found compromising pictures or content linked to you online?
Sexting and self-worth
Everyone deserves to be treated with respect. People who respect you for who you are will not place unreasonable demands on you, or ask you to put yourself in dangerous or compromising positions.
- Trust your gut instinct. If it doesn’t feel right, don't send it on.
- Do not give in to pressure where you are told you need to do something to "earn" love. Think twice, ask for advice and when in doubt, realize it isn't worth it.
- Digital communication is not anonymous. Nearly everything can be traced back to the source via cell phones or the Internet.
- No means no. When talking about sexual activity, sexting or any sexual pressure, realize that "no" is a complete sentence. Honor the word "no" and respect the boundaries of people you care about.