By Chassidy Sowersby
Sexting – sexy pictures sent via text message or email. It starts out with a picture sent to a boyfriend or girlfriend, however, many times these pictures get passed around until everyone has seen the goods.
Penn Manor senior Elena Hart said she witnessed a bad sexting experience.
“I was with one of my friends when she took an inappropriate picture and sent it. It was nasty,” said Hart.
What teens think, at times, is careless fun, experts in the field of psychology warn that the effects can be lasting.
“On the one hand it can be kind of fun to get an erotic message over your email or on the phone,” said certified sex therapist Joyce Joseph, who writes a column online. “But on the other hand none of that is really safe nor private.”
“It’s possible that teens are doing this because (they think) it boosts their self esteem,” Joseph said.
The so-called ‘privacy’ may be what makes sexting appealing to teens, but what many fail to realize is that the pictures are far from private.
Senior Eric Gerlach said he thinks it happens more than people think.
“All the time,” Gerlach said. “My friends are always showing me pictures that girls have sent to them and there are always so many rumors about people sexting. It is definitely far from private!”
The practice of sexting can cause serious problems for many teens.
In Alabama, four middle school students were arrested for exchanging nude photos. In New York, a 16-year old boy is facing a possible seven-year sentence in prison for forwarding a nude photo of his 15-year old girlfriend to a buddy.
And in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, eight teens were charged with child pornography after recording sex acts on their cell phones and sending them to friends.
Sexting has even caused tragedies such as the suicide of Jess Logan. Logan was an 18- year-old high school student from Cincinnati, Ohio. She took nude photos of herself and sent them to her boyfriend at the time. Once they broke up
he sent them around to other girls in school. The girls reportedly harassed her and called her nasty names.
Logan went on a local TV show to tell others about her story and make sure no one else would have to go through the torture she did. Two months later, she hanged herself in her bedroom.
It’s likely that most teens are not aware of the seriousness of sexting. But there are serious consequences.
If you are caught sending explicit pictures, you can be charged with manufacturing,disseminating and/or possessing child pornography. And if you are caught receiving these pictures, you can be charged with possession of child pornography, according to law enforcement officials.
“It is a federal crime, I think it happens a lot more than it is known,” said Penn Manor school resource officer Jason Hottenstein.”But as more and more kids get cell phones, it keeps becoming more popular.”