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February 22, 2024

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Spring Housing Guide

Sexting’ leads to complications both legal and personal for teens

As cell phone technology evolved into phones having photo and video capturing capabilities, owners could use these services to communicate images to family, friends and significant others.’ Of course, this lead to the phenomenon of ‘sexting,’ or sending sexually explicit or pornographic images and videos to significant others. As cell phones become more advanced, they are also becoming more accessible to younger children and teenagers, many of whom are rather impressionable and ignorant toward the consequences of sexting material to others.’ Although it can create problems for people no matter the age, for minors, materials sent through sexting may not simply embarrass a reputation, they could ruin lives. In Middletown, Ohio, a 13-year-old boy was charged with pandering obscenity involving a minor after school officials discovered he shot and possessed a sexually explicit video of an underage classmate on his phone.’ According to the ‘Cincinnati Enquirer,’ teachers at the teen’s school became aware of the video after the young boy bragged to his friends about it and showed it off at a school skating party. In situations such as this, many people can find themselves in deep trouble.’ The original creators and receivers, as well as secondary receivers of the content, may be charged with felony counts of child pornography, punishable by jail time and designation as a sex offender for the next 25 years.’ Additionally, as in the case of the Middletown boy, suspensions in school can prevent students from even finishing their education, hindering a social and professional life before they are even old enough to enter the working world.’ This certainly isn’t the first instance of teenagers sexting, and it’s unlikely to be the last.’ Law enforcement offices are beginning to recognize the increasingly common issue, and are working to do something about the problem.’ An article in The (Toledo) Blade discussed an increased effort by the Lucas County prosecutor’s office to bring attention to the serious consequences of sexting.’ This can be an effective way to prevent teens from making a mistake in the name of teenage relationships (and possibly peer pressure).’ By spending money and providing resources to inform teenagers of the dangers of sexting, it may be able to save money and resources prosecuting teenagers as a result of a lapse in judgment. To young teenagers, the idea of love and relationships tends to be glorified to the point one feels they found their soul mate at 13 years old and they will enter into a blissful, long-lasting relationship without any drama. As a result, those engaged in a relationship may ‘sext’ their significant other because they feel the need to impress them, and do not think about what may happen to those files once the relationship ends.’ In an act of revenge, the receiver of the previously confidential material may decide to humiliate their ex by sending the content to their friends. Not every teenager who creates sexual content will necessarily think this way, and not every relationship will involve sexual content such as this.’ However, if teenagers who choose to send content to others are discovered, the effects of sexting are not worth impressing others. Additionally, as shown by the amount of annoying ‘phone lost / phone stolen / phone missing after drunken activity’ groups on Facebook, strangers can come into contact with phones very easily. In lower grade levels, many school faculty confiscate phones from students if they use them during class. Even if a teenager is keeping sexually explicit content they receive to themselves, if their phones were to get out of their hands there is no telling who could see what’s stored on the phones, and what people may do with the content. There are many ways a student’s private actions, meant to be shared only with their significant others, could enter into the wrong hands and the hands of the law. Society is changing and there is little denying that. In terms of sexual expression, kids are growing up faster than ever.’ However, this does not mean teens will think about the ramifications of their actions before engaging in sexual behaviors. Everyone, regardless of age, should think before sexting as ‘sexted’ material can enter into the wrong hands whether you are legal or not.’ However, teenagers in particular should be educated on the dangers of sexting and the added consequences it has on them as minors before their education becomes a lesson in criminal punishment.

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