All across the country, teenage boys and girls are using the built in cameras on their cell phones to take nude and semi-nude photos of themselves and sending them to boyfriends/girlfriends, friends, or classmates. It’s called “sexting,” and this practice has very serious legal consequences.
Renowned attorney Gloria Allred reveals the legal consequences of “sexting” that parents and teens may not have known:
- Teens participating in “sexting” activities – those that send and receive the sexually explicit photos – are at risk of potential criminal charges for child pornography OR criminal use of a communication device, and in some states, face the exposure of having to register as a sex offender – a stigma that could haunt them the rest of their lives
- Not only do teens who participate in “sexting” face the risk of criminal prosecution and the prospects of incarceration and/or probation, which will potentially remain on their criminal record for the indefinite future, they also face the prospect of the possibility of being required by the Court to register as sex offenders.
- This label has horrific consequences for teens including mandated reporting of the sex offender in various public records and very burdensome notification requirements that the sex offender must comply with – which may remain with the sex offender for the rest of his/her life.
In light of these alarming revelations, a new survey (10/2009) from Lawyers.com showed that while parents are aware of this activity nearly two-thirds don’t think their kids have ever engaged in this x-rated activity. And nearly a third of parents are unsure they understand the potential dangers associated with sexting, including the proclivity toward cyberbullying and legal ramifications.
With these stats in mind, Gloria notes the following legal consequences parents may face if his/her teen engages in “sexting” activities:
- If a parent knows that his/her minor is engaging in “sexting” activities and does nothing to prevent it, that parent is at risk of being charged criminally with contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
- Furthermore, a parent who ignores and/or takes ineffective action against a child engaged in “sexting,” faces the potential of an investigation by the Child Protective Services and the resultant risk of losing and/or restricting some of the parents’ rights vis a vis the minor.
- A parent who negligently supervises his/her minor child that is engaged in “sexting” also faces the potential of a civil lawsuit for negligent supervision and negligent infliction of emotional distress filed by the parents of the minor child who received the photos.
- In addition, the parents of a “sexting” minor might have to pay monetary damages to the recipient teen if it is found that the parents were negligent in supervising their child and/or failed to adequately discipline their child after discovery that their child was engaged in “sexting.”