Experts say that the easiest way to keep your children from sexting is to tell them not to do it. Everyone agrees that teens need to hear from the people who care most about them-their parents. Even though it may seem obvious to you that they should not be doing this, what teens really want to hear from you is, â€˜Don’t do this.’ It is important to understand that at the moment of sexting they are not thinking that maybe they are doing something that could get them in trouble and that this could be considered porn.
Sexting is the practice of sending pictures of sexual acts or pictures of nude teens, and is becoming a major concern of parents across the country. Some teens are even facing prosecution for pornography and being added to sexual offender lists. Cases range from the sharing of pictures of teens engaging in sex acts to some cases of teens selling video of a sexual nature.
As a result of the rise of this type of behavior, law enforcement and lawmakers have taken the following actions:
• Some counties have announced a Juvenile Diversion Program, designed to help first-time sexting offenders. The diversion program will require offenders to complete a six-month program of community service and education. In addition lectures on practicing “safe text” are part of the program.
• Some lawmakers have proposed legislation that would make it a first-degree misdemeanor for teens to send sexually provocative or nude pictures of themselves or others by cell phone.
• Presently juveniles now could face felony sex charges as well as sex offender registration.
While that is what officials are doing, many are asking what parents should do. Experts recommend that they add it to the list of other uncomfortable discussions you must have with your child. This includes parents discussing safe sex or abstinence, not taking drugs or drinking alcohol, (especially when driving)and talking about dating violence. Studies show that one in five teenagers has sexted.
It’s important to catch up with technology because your kids certainly have. Parents should understand that when it comes to sexting, a simple cell phone can be dangerous. A cell phone should not just be handed over to a child without instructions and rules, because even the oldest teenagers are not old enough to appreciate its power. Keep in mind that you just do not hand the phone over, just like you do not hand the keys over to the car when they are sixteen.
It is crucial to help your teen understand that while the reason for sending a provocative picture is obvious, the payoff is brief. But there are ways to discourage your teen from sexting. Some of them are:
• Let them know what kind of pictures are safe to send-the kind you approve. Tell your children they may not send any photo of themselves via computer or cell phone without first getting your approval. Help them understand that the intention is not just to snoop, but to give a second opinion. A picture at a slumber party could seem innocent to your teen-age daughter, but in the wrong hands and sent through the Internet repeatedly it could literally become pornography.
• Talk to your child when you put a phone or computer that is able to send pictures into your child’s hands. Waiting to have this discussion until later could be too late.
• Be involved with your child’s computer use. You should make rules about the cell phone and computer. Let them know you will look at their cell phone and computer history. You may also want to get a Facebook, MySpace and Twitter account and ask your child for access to theirs.
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