Teens 'sexting' considered serious offense - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Teens 'sexting' considered serious offense

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - The idea of "sexting" is becoming more popular in the digital community by younger mobile users, but most teens are unaware that it is a serious offense.

Some parents may not be as tech savvy as their kids, but officials advise they do need to be aware of what is on their child's phone.

Many teenagers do not know that sending a text or picture that includes sexual related content could get them arrested and charged with child pornography.

"A minor sending to a minor can still be sexual child pornography, because it doesn't specify if the child is the same age or not," said juvenile division supervisor with Craighead County, Ashley Boles. "If it's sent via Internet or via text or whatever it's going to be considered child pornography"

Boles said child pornography can also include emails and content posted on Facebook and Twitter.

"This is a serious offense, this is not something that is normal, this is something that is going to be dealt with seriously by the law," Boles said. "I have to tell parents if you are providing cell phone service for your child, if your child lives under your roof, you need to be checking these phones."

An arrest was made in a case that involved the rape and child pornography of a 12-year old girl Friday. The mother of the victim was also arrested for permitting abuse of a minor.

Police found nearly 59,000 texts and picture messages in the child's cell phone.

Officials say that is a class B felony.

Boles said teenagers should think about the consequences of their actions.

"In juvenile court a person can face up to $500 in fines, up to 160 hours of public service work, up to two years of supervised probation, possibly sex offender registration as well as up to two years in the division of youth services," said Boles.

Boles said they are starting to see more teens charged with child pornography.

"It's an easy way to communicate with another person, it's quick and it's exploratory," he said.

If a person receives an unwanted text or picture, they should immediately file a report with police. And hitting delete does not make the pictures go away. Boles said teenagers should really consider their future.

Officials said if the minor is a teenager and sending this type of material, that they need to slow down and teen think about their future.

Copyright 2012 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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