A new study found one in four young adults have been engaging in sexting. Sexting does not only lead to mental distress and cyber bullying for your child, but can be charged as a criminal act.
Sexting is defined as the sending of sexually explicit messages or images by cell phone. And, it is increasing at an alarming rate.
According to JAMA Pediatrics, researchers surveyed young people ages 11-18 and found one in four have received a sext and one in seven reported sending one.
The increasing number of young adults getting involved with sexting is said to be a result of how quickly the access of cell phones is becoming. On average kids are getting smartphones as young as 10 now. Sexting reports are dealt with on a case by case basis, depending on the situation.
Mandan High School Resource Officer, Michael Breid says, “Sometimes it is a kid being a victim or a child be a victim of an online predator, sometimes they are the instigators sending it to a girlfriend or boyfriend another student at the high school. ”
A sexting charge is a Class A misdemeanor– that means if your child is charged it would go on their juvenile record and have consequences that could include supervised probation, house probation, or even removal of custody
Principal at Shiloh Christian School, Sara Mitzel says, “I think informing students about the decision making that they make is important. We had a speaker come in on the topic of sexting with out 8th graders. We had an informal meeting with our parents that we offered on the different apps and the options that are out there.”
Students aren’t realizing the consequences of what they might think is a harmless picture.
Mitzel says, “Before you know it something unkind or something inappropriate has been sent out and its too late and you cant take it back. Someone could screen shot that and that image is out there.”
Mitzel says not only as a principal but as a mother you need to make sure you discussing topics like sexting with your child, but most importantly talk about their self respect.
“Talking about healthy self-esteem. About building up their self worth and who they are. They don’t need to seek value of people around them to be strong and who they are as a person,” says Mitzel.
Mitzel says she has personally seen an increase of sexting reports in the last two years at Shiloh Christian Academy. She says with the programs and services they offer about sexting– students will hopefully be more aware and parents will get more involved.