When the parents of a 13-year-old 8th grader in Virginia discovered that their daughter was sending and receiving nude images of other teens on her tablet, they did what many other parents would do, they questioned their daughter and investigated farther. What they found concerned them enough that they did what many parents would not do, they contacted their local law enforcement agency.
What the parents found were sexual pictures of other teenagers (none of their daughter) and conversations going back and forth with other boys that they found were inappropriate for their daughters age.
“Everybody wanted to be her friend, because according to these people, she was cool now,” the teens mother said.
What also upset them were that older teens who they believe were 17 to 18 were requesting to have sex with their daughter. The parents contacted law enforcement to protect their daughter even if that meant she would also get in legal trouble for sexting.
“We did this now to protect her. For now and in the future, because this could get worse, she could be taken,” the teens mother said.
The teens involved in the sexting can face charges as severe as felonies for possessing child pornography.
While the mom acknowledges that many parents wouldn’t do what she did, she feels like she did what she had to do to protect her daughter from possible sexual abuse now and in the future.
A Couple of Quick facts about sexting
- 40 percent of teenage girls do it as a joke, 34 percent do it to feel sexy, and 12 percent feel pressured to do it according to research.
- Sending or receiving a sexually suggestive text or image to someone under the age of 18 is considered child pornography and can result in criminal charges.
- Sexting is defined by the U.S. court system as “an act of sending sexually explicit materials through mobile phones.” The messages may be text, photo, or video.10. In the U.S., 8 states have enacted bills to protect minors from sexting, and an additional 14 states have proposed bills to legislation.
Someways parents can help prevent sexting is by having conversations with their teens, monitoring their electronic devices and using parent controls.
What would you do if you discovered your teen has been sexting? Would you be willing to contact the local authorities as this mother did?