v  Sarah Miller

   The term sexting is in the news and is more main stream that one might think. Text messaging give us a constant and instant connection to almost everyone we know. Not only can we send messages, but we can also send pictures, audio clips, and video. Communication has never been this easy.

   “Sexting,” is the act of sending nude or semi-nude pictures via text message. Sexting has become very popular with teens. Teens thinking they are safe sending pictures, but do not realize what they are really doing. The laws states that pictures, nude or suggestive, of minors is child pornography. Being found with child pornography has serious consequences even if you’re a minor.  Sexting can also be sending suggestive text messages. If these messages or pictures are unwanted, the sender can be charges with sexual harassment.

  Some of theses instances happen with young girls. Maybe someone they met on Myspace asks for a picture or a boyfriend wanting something to look at. What most girls don’t realize is that these pictures can end up on the internet or spread to everyone they know in an instant. There have been many instances where people have sent suggestive or a couple has harshly broken up and pictures that were meant just for each other have spread everywhere.

   January of this year six students in Pennsylvania were arrested for child pornography on their phones. Three of them were girls who had taken pictures of themselves and sent them to someone. They were brought up on charges of manufacturing and possession of child pornography. The other three were boys who had been caught with photos on their phone by a school officer. People found with child pornography are harshly punished. Under law a person with child pornography is registered as a sex offender, can spend time in prison, and face huge fines.

   Brad Mansfield explains how students can avoid being caught sexting. “If you wouldn’t say it, don’t text it,” Mansfield said.

     Schools and law enforcement are cracking down on sexting between students to make them more aware of what can happen. One local school district has sent letters home to parents, and though many students are aware of the issues associated with sexting, many have no idea. If caught with nude pictures of a minor on your phone at school you can face suspension or other serious consequences. If caught on campus, charges will only be filed with law enforcement by the parents, but if it is not in school charges will be filed regardless.

   When students were asked about “sexting” they replied.

   “I don’t do it. I think it’s not a smart thing to do.”

  “I think people need to find better things to do.”

  “It’s degrading.”

“Sexting doesn’t show any respect for your partner.”

“I think it just makes you look trashy.”

“Getting in that much trouble over it isn’t worth it.”