Kayla sat at the kitchen table completely numb from what was unfolding in front of her. With a knock on the door that evening, her entire life changed. The officer sat her and her parents down to discuss the charges that we’re being filed against her because of recent texts that she’d sent to a guy she’d met at school. What had started out as innocent flirting over texts turned into sexting– exchanging nudes and deleting late night explicit texts so their parents wouldn’t see. That evening her parents were exposed to all her secrets as they were laid out as evidence on the kitchen table.
So what happened? Hang with me for a few. I’ll get back to that story.
We’ve all heard the term “sexting,” but let’s be sure we’re all talking about the same thing. First, let’s address exactly what it is. Sexting is when someone sends sexually explicit photos, videos, text messages, or emails, usually by cell phone.
Now what may seem like a totally private dialog between two people that no one else will ever know anything about is simply just an illusion. Things will go wrong – even when (and probably especially when!) you didn’t mean for them to. Keep in mind anytime you’re using an electronic device, it can be hacked. Experts expect this to be one of the worst ever hacking years yet, with security breaches on the rise.
And even if you never experience a hack on your own device, there’s even more of a chance that someone can pass along some of your once private conversations without your consent or knowledge. The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, Teenage Sexting Statistics, reports that “17% of sexters share the messages, they receive with others, and 55% of those share them with more than one person.” (So suddenly your private message isn’t so private.)
Also, be warned ladies, it was the women who report more negative feedback regarding the consequences of sexting while in a relationship, past or present. Ladies, if you desire to feel in complete control of your life and your future, keep this in mind: Once you send a message, you are absolutely not in control of what happens to it. In fact, a recent study of college students found that about 10 percent suffer remorse after sending sexually explicit photos and messages ― and sometimes just right after hitting send. With the stats stating that 17% of sexters are passing on your “private” conversations, with most of them sending them to more than one friend, you’re setting yourself up for future headaches and heartaches.
Something you should also know is that in some places sexting has some serious legal consequences that can impact you for a lifetime. In some states, you can be charged with production, distribution and/or possession of child pornography, depending on the age of the person sending and receiving the texts. In addition, you may be listed on the sex offender registry list. (Um–Gross! Seriously, is THAT worth the risk??!)
Maybe you’re reading this now, thinking, “yeah, right. That can’t be true. That’s never happened to anyone I know.”
It does happen, and don’t forget that you can even be prosecuted for passing on what someone else has sent to you.
Well, let’s get back to the opening story, except it’s not a “story.” It’s a real account of a friend of mine. Kayla (I did change her name) still has consequences that follow her today because of her decision to exchange nudes. Remember it started as innocent fun and flirting before it progressed to something illegal. Guard yourself and keep your standards high.
I live by the rule, “when in doubt, DON’T.” Although I use this to keep from being impulsive in different areas of my life, I especially use it when comes to electronic communication. You know, the kind that once you’ve hit send you can never get back? So when I have any doubt about a message I’m about to send out privately (that can be made very public with just a couple quick taps in an app,) then I just don’t do it.
Kayla wants me to share her story, because she wants it to positively impact others. She wants to help others avoid the embarrassment and consequences she carries with her. Would you please help us get this message to all of your friends by sharing? And remember, “When in doubt, don’t.”