Technology is everywhere and anywhere. Everybody has a cell phone, tablet, and/or laptop. It often feels like there is no escape. People are ditching their home phones and handing kids cell phones for safety and convenience. However, although cellular phones do add a measure of safety to your life--without proper supervision--they can lead to dangerous consequences. Gone are the days of parents listening in on phone calls to monitor friends and behavior. Texting is private, quiet, and potentially harmful when left unchecked by a parent or guardian.
Sexting is a danger that can effect anyone with a cellphone, tablet, or laptop and the statistics are staggering. Here is some information you need to know:
Teenagers pushing the boundaries of sex is not a new thing. Over the years teenagers have always pushed the sexual boundaries of the generation. However, sexting can push the boundaries of the law. The law becomes involved when minors are sending racy images or texts to those who are legal age. When the pictures are shared, according to the law they are disseminating child pornography.
Child pornography is a serious crime and is dealt seriously according to the laws of your state. Sexting with a minor in Indiana is a crime, whether or not images were sent back and forth. However, if images are sent back and forth there is stiff penalty by the state who charges these crimes harshly.
You have to communicate with your child, monitor their phone usage, and talk openly about the dangers of sexting-- solicited or unsolicited. You should have a plan in place to encourage them to communicate with you about if this does happen and how you will handle the situation. It will make your child feel they have a safe place to communicate without judgement and fear. Don't assume your child is using discretion. Do not give trust too prematurely. Investigate software and phone apps to help monitor the activity on their devices. It could save your child's life!
A Positive Approach to Teen Health (P.A.T.H) is a 501(c)3 organization that reaches seven counties throughout Northwest Indiana. Since 1993, A Positive Approach to Teen Health has been working to empower teens to make healthy choices regarding drugs, sex, alcohol, and violence.