OFFICE OF THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY
Jefferson and Gilpin Counties
Peter A. Weir, District Attorney
SEXTING – Balancing the Law, Teens and Technology
Sexting is a hot topic these days, or it should be. This precarious pastime is a phenomenon with young people sending sexually explicit photos and video of themselves through text messaging. Kids think it’s harmless. It’s not.
This combination of children’s age-old sexual curiosity, bad judgment and their love of modern electronic data-sharing can have devastating consequences.
Across the country children have committed suicide after sexually explicit photos sent to one person, with the assurance it would go no further, were emailed to others. In the aftermath, humiliation and harassment can lead to misery, desperation and ultimately suicide.
In additional to personal and social implications Sexting is a crime and can result in criminal charges and sex offender registration for those who participate in any way.
Parents, teachers, children and anyone associated with a child should take the time to educate themselves about the dangers of Sexting.
“Parents have an obligation to understand the risks and consequences of Sexting and to make sure that their children understand them,” says District Attorney Peter Weir, “It is important that parents monitor the children’s online activity. This is not a violation of their privacy, this is good parenting. Active parenting is one way we can work together as a community to stop this dangerous behavior.”
Children never think that the trusted friend or boyfriend to whom the explicit photos were sent would ever pass them on. But they do. Once photos are sent from a cell phone they are not retrievable from cyberspace. Even deleting the photo or video may not be enough.
Children also never consider the fact that Sexting is illegal if the photographed person is under 18 years of age. It is illegal to possess the naked pictures, and an even more serious offense to send them or post them online.
We strongly encourage parents to interact with their kids and monitor their online activities. We also recommend that at the end of the day all cell phones be turned in to parents for charging overnight and returned to kids the next day. Sixty percent of kids polled in Jeffco schools report that they sleep with their cell phones.