Taking and sending x-rated photos can cause lasting trouble for your teenager.
“The sexting issue with teenagers is rampant.”
It’s something that Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan says happens in western Massachusetts schools almost daily. A nude photo intended for one person can be spread around an entire high school almost instantly, opening the door to bullying and lifelong consequences for your teenager.
“It can hurt somebody’s reputation or even hurt their future careers,” Sullivan warned.
In Massachusetts, minors caught sending explicit photos can also be hit with a felony charge of possession of child pornography. Some other states treat it as a misdemeanor or put offenders through educational diversion programs.
“They don’t realize how serious it is to first, take the picture, but then to give it to someone,” Sullivan said. “Unfortunately, sometimes these pictures go way beyond than what originally intended.”
The truth is: there is no safe way to sext.
Some apps allow users to send photos that can only be viewed once, but what many don’t know is that those photos don’t actually disappear.
“There’s always a digital footprint on the pictures you take and the pictures you send,” said Chris Bovino of Northeast IT. “The apps state they get rid of them, but that’s not necessarily the case.”
Bovino says photos are stored on apps’ servers, leaving teens vulnerable to hackers. The original recipient can also save the photo before it disappears, with a screenshot.
If photos do end up in the wrong place, it’s hard to get them back.
“It’s difficult, not impossible, but it’s going to be hard without legal action and will cost a lot of money,” Bovino said.
Governor Baker has proposed a bill that would decriminalize sexting for minors and instead put teen offenders through an educational diversion program.