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What is sexting?

  • Sexting is when people share sexual message or pictures using electronic devices like cell phones, emails and social networking sites.

What should I do if I need help?

If someone is trying to pressure you to send a sext message. You need to tell someone.  Preferably a trusted adult, they will be able to get you in contact with the right people to handle the situation.

Remember! NO ONE has the right to pressure you to do something you are not comfortable with. When it comes to your body, you are the one who is in charge. Never let anyone make you feel like you have to put yourself on display to prove how you feel about them. If they really care they will respect you and your decisions. Check out more info in Consent.

How does sexting affect me?

Sexting can seem like no big deal right?  In a world where young people ages 15 to 24, have the highest rate of STI’s in the country, sending a sexual image via electronics seems to be the safest way to express your sexual feelings. No physical contact = no chance of catching an STI or getting pregnant, so it should be a win win.  Unfortunately, it is not that simple. Sexting can have some pretty harsh consequences too.

Before hitting send, remember that you cannot control where this image may travel. What you send to a partner could end up with their friends, online or in the hands of a sexual predator. Once that picture is out there, there is no getting it back. Even the social media apps that “delete” the image after so many seconds have servers that store everything posted on their site. Don’t forget people can take screenshots as well and save your picture without your knowledge.

Emotional consequences

  • Objectification/possible victimization
  • Loss of friends, bullying
  • Feeling sad, depressed, withdrawn
  • Thinking about or actually hurting self/others
  • Regret, loss of respect for oneself

Emotional consequences are rarely thought of in the moment. But what happens after you break up? Is it possible that the relationship doesn’t end well and they send your pics out to “get back at you”?  What about if they sent the images to everyone on their social media and your teachers or parents found out? We need to keep all of this in mind before we send any explicit picture.

Future consequences

  • Employment
  • College admission
  • Joining the military
  • Re-living the emotional consequences when old photos/sext messages re-surface
  • Future relationships can also be hindered by this.

Employers are looking for good, professional candidates to fill the positions in their company. Many businesses will search a person’s social media to get a feel for what kind of person you are and if you are what they want.  If you have nude images or pics of alcohol and drug use, you are not going to be very high on their list to hire.

Some colleges will also google you to make sure you are a good fit for their school.

What will come up if someone searches your name?

Legal consequences

If anyone involved is under the age of 18, this is officially considered child pornography. Legal consequences can vary depending on where you live. In some states it can be as much as a felony per picture for both the sender and receiver (even if you didn’t ask for the picture).  Checkout your states laws around sexting here: https://cyberbullying.org/sexting-laws

  • Federal prosecution under child pornography laws (that includes the picture taker, person in the picture, sender, receiver and anyone who is in possession or has seen the photo)
  • Risk of placement on Sex Offender Registry
  • Possible jail time
  • In most cases the penalty will be worse for the individuals who share or request the photo. This is considered enticing a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct.

Things to consider before pushing send ….

Think about the consequences of taking, sending or sharing a sexual picture of yourself or someone else underage. You could get kicked off of sports teams, lose educational opportunities and even go to jail.

Never take images of yourself that you wouldn’t want everyone – your classmates, teachers and family – to see.

Never forward someone else’s sex-related messages. It’s not funny, and it could land you in serious trouble.

Remember schools can punish students for sexting even if the students are not breaking the law and if all students involved are legal adults. If sexting leads to anything that disrupts school day such as bullying or bad behavior the schools can and probably will get involved

Report any unwanted sexual messages you receive to a trusted adult; this could be a parent, teacher, coach or any adult you trust with sensitive information.


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