According to a recent study, about one in five teenagers have electronically distributed provocative pictures of themselves that could land them in jail. A joint survey by Cosmogirl.com and The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy found that 19% of teenagers answered "yes" when asked if they had ever "sent a nude or semi-nude picture/video" of themselves to someone via email, cell phone, etc.
And according to CBS legal analyst, attorney Lisa Bloom, "There are local prosecutors who will arrest you, lock you up, and treat you like a child pornographer." And being under-age doesn't protect them. "It is still child pornography," explained Bloom. "You don't have to be 18 to possess or distribute child pornography."
"Sexting" describes the growing trend of sending sexually explicit messages (text, pictures, or video) electronically, mostly via cell phones. The most common reason teenagers give for sending sexy content is to be "fun or flirtatious," what Bloom described to me as "the digital equivalent of what our generation did - mooning and flashing each other." Unfortunately, many don't understand the possible consequences. We live at a time when a moment's poor judgment can go viral. In Pennsylvania,
So it's the same old lesson learned by the scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz, who never did need that diploma to be smart. We parents have the power to help our children safely navigate a world that is increasingly treacherous. We just need to use it.
For this week's CBS Doc Dot Com, I discuss sexting with psychologist Susan Lipkins, Ph.D. You can find her advice about sexting by clicking here.
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