Who would have thought we’d have to worry about our kids taking nude pictures of themselves and sending them to their friends. Well “Sexting”, sending nude pictures via text messaging or the Internet, is here and we do need to worry about it. Why? Because according to a recent study by the “National Campaign to Prevent Teen & Unplanned Pregnancy” 20% of teens admit to participating in it. 20%! None of us would want our children to expose themselves in this way but beyond the embarrassment of knowing your child has been seen nude are the legal consequences.

Sexting is one of those crimes where the victim is also the perpetrator. Lets say, for example, your teenage daughter takes nude pictures of herself and sends them to her boyfriend. Soon after they break up. The boyfriend is upset so to get even he sends your daughters nude pictures to several of his friends at school. The photos spread and soon large numbers of the guys and girls at school has seen your daughters’ nude pictures. If that weren’t bad enough word of these pictures spreads and the police find out and investigate. Since your daughter is the one who took the pictures of herself and sent them to her boyfriend she can be charged with production and distribution of child pornography. That’s a federal offense that comes with possible jail time and her being listed on the national sexual offender list. That’s something that can stick with her for the rest of their life.

The above example is based on countless stories that have taken place across the country and shows how serious the consequences for Sexting can be. But in a “Sexting” story that took place in Ohio the consequences where much greater. Jessie Logan, a high school senior, sent a nude picture she took of herself to her boyfriend. He sent it to several of his friends and the photo’s spread into the general population at her school and then eventually made its way into other schools. Jessie started getting teased relentlessly and was constantly called all kinds of horrible and filthy names. This abuse didn’t happen just at school but just about everywhere she went. It even followed her home as the name-calling persisted on her MySpace and Facebook accounts. Eventually it all became too much for Jessie and her mother found her hanging in her bedroom. A young life snuffed out by something all parents need to be on the look out for, “Sexting”.

So how do we protect our kids from this new threat? Talk to your kids about Sexting and all its consequences. Also check you kids cell phones often and without warning and see what kinds of pictures they have on them. Some would say that’s overly intrusive. I would say its just good parenting.