Sue Scheff: The Sexting Phenomenomn and Teen Safety

During the past six months or so, the word Sexting has became part of our daily language. The media use it constantly. Even parents that don't have teens are up in arms about it. New technologies have their price.
I want to talk about some of the bigger issues involved with Sexting:What exactly is it?According to the youth written Urban Dictionary: "the act of text messaging someone in the hopes of having a sexual encounter with them later; initially casual, transitioning into highlysuggestive and even sexually explicit".
Sexting doesn't necessarily mean pictures and are very often not involved. Although sending provacative photos has become the biggest issue, it is not that common.Legal IssuesRecently the question has come up as to whether minors, sending nude pictures to other minors, should be prosecuted under child pornography laws. Many states are grappling over this issue right now. I think there are two different issues.
If a teen sends a nude picture of herself to a willing viewer, that should not be a crime. However, if the friend that forwards that pictures to all his friends without the consent of the teen in the picture, that is a whole different story.
I'm not sure if they should be punished under adult, child pornography laws, but there should be consequences to help prevent this from happening.Teen SafetyAs parents, how can you help prevent your teens from making these mistakes? And teens, what should you know about digital safety?
Yahoo Safely has put together a website to help both teens and parents with online safety issues. The parent site is filled with blogs written by experts on topics such as sexting, cyber-bullying and teaching your kids about online risks.
The teens area has a section written by other teens on being safe and a great Q&A.As always, talk to your teens about Sexting and let them know you are there for them. This is a whole new world that today's teens are facing and we must keep up with all of the new technology to understand their world and help guide them through it.

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