Young people today don’t know what it’s like to be without the Internet, a camera and a phone all within arm’s reach. For them, things like texting, Snapchatting, tweeting and video messaging are all second nature.
Unfortunately, this means they aren’t always as cautious as they should be when it comes to what they share on their phones. This could prove to be a devastating mistake if a teen winds up facing criminal charges for something they send or receive. This can and does happen when Minnesota teens engage in sexting.
Sexting, or the act of exchanging illicit messages and images over the phone, is not uncommon. It is also not illegal, as long as the people involved are all of legal age. But teenagers fail to appreciate this last bit of information.
As this MPR article notes, teens don’t necessarily connect the fact that sexting can be considered child pornography, which is a serious criminal offense. They think their messages are private or that it’s okay if they are just sexting with their boyfriend or girlfriend. The often fail to consider the consequences of their actions, so they run the risk of learning the hard way that they are breaking the law.
In order to protect teens from the very harsh penalties of a criminal conviction, parents will want to:
- Discuss the implications of sexting with teen children
- Remind kids about how easy it can be for private messages and photos to be shared with others
- Encourage kids to be open with them about their relationships
- Consider options for monitoring your teen’s phone usage and messaging
Unfortunately, despite all a parent’s best efforts, a teen can still make a bad decision and wind up facing criminal charges. While it is only natural for parents to be upset with their child, most will still want to do whatever they can to protect him or her. The best way a parent can do this is to consult an attorney as soon as possible. With legal guidance, parents and their teens can work to address and hopefully mitigate the potential fallout of a bad decision.