By Miriam Aliberti —
A bunch of guys are in a huddle shoving each other to get a closer look at something. “Whoa,” one of them says “look at the size of those gazongas.” When Melanie snapchatted Brad the picture of herself posing in her panties, she never expected him to show it to anyone else. Now, she thought “Everyone knows.” She ran into the bathroom just as the tears began to spill down her cheeks. Hadn’t he promised not to show anyone?
You’ve probably heard about sexting, or maybe you’ve sent or been on the receiving end of a nude photo or sexy text yourself. Views on the idea of sexting vary widely with some believing it’s no biggie and others believing it’s a pretty big decision to share something so intimate. Sometimes it seems like sending that photo is the only way to get attention from that guy you have the big crush on. How else can you compete if everyone else is willing to do it? Sexting has become so popular that many people don’t consider the reasons why it might be a bad idea.
Hackers and Theft
If you are one of those people who thinks; “Hey, it’s no big deal, I’ll send it on snapchat and then it’s gone” think again. WMUR-TV recently reported the arrest of a 21-year-old man who hacked into the accounts of multiple teenaged girls, stole their photos, and then posted the photos online. A phone can also be lost or stolen and those naked photos with it. Friends mess around all the time grabbing each other’s phones and lurking their messages. Passwords are no guarantee of protection either. There is simply no way to be sure that your photos won’t show up somewhere without your permission. In one click, a photo can be sent into cyberspace forever, and your whole world can change.
I Won’t Show Anyone
So, that hot guy who works at Jamba Juice finally got your number. You thrum with excitement every time you see his name come up on your phone. You spend hours texting and getting to know each other. He asks you to send him a sexy topless pic. You hesitate but then think “What am I worried about…he’ll only see it for a second.” Most people believe that the pictures they send on Snapchat are deleted right away but that’s not always true. It’s easy to screenshot, use a third-party app, or use another device to save pictures and texts. It can be a shock and pretty scary to see the phrase, “this photo has been screenshotted” because once you have made the choice to hit send, the photo cannot be reclaimed. Most guys can’t resist bragging about the pic they received from a hot girl and showing it around to their friends.Some appseven allow a picture to be saved without the sender knowing it has happened. It’s bad enough when someone shares a picture you think is private but more alarming to consider they can have it without your awareness.ABC News relates a study that says “Twelve percent of teens have forwarded a sext without consent.”
Break Up Revenge
You are madly in love and things are going great! You think “we’ll never break up,” but then you do. Break up revenge is more common than you think. It’s devastating when that picture of you goes viral because your ex is mad and wants to get back at you.ABC News reports a story about a guy who was upset after a break up with his girlfriend and forwarded a picture she sent to him to everyone on her contact list. He was arrested so the story made the news in a big way and so did that picture she sent. It might seem like a good idea in the heat of the moment, but it makes sense to consider the worst case possibilities. Relationships change, and that person you trust right now might not be someone you can trust later.
It might surprise you to know that sexting is illegal in some states if you are under the age of 18. The Federal Bureau of Investigation warns that sending a sexual photo of a person under the age of 18 can result in child pornography charges, jail, or having to register as a sex offender. That means sending or receiving a sexy pic can be illegal even if it’s you sending a picture of yourself. A 14-year-old girl is battling criminal charges right now that were filed against her because she sent an explicit photo of herself to a boy she liked. The boy copied it and passed it around. Adding insult to injury, the ACLU reports that the girl has been charged with felony distribution of child pornography. A charge that means if she is convicted, she will have to register as a sex offender. That’s a life changer and can affect your future because of limitations on attending school, job opportunities, and where you can work or live.
Sexting coercion is what happens when someone pressures you to share sexy images even after you say that you don’t want to. It can be hard to say no when you are trying to get someone’s attention, especially somebody you really like. The fact is that a person who is putting pressure on you to do something you don’t want to do is not a person you want to have a relationship with anyway. There are many cases of people with bad intention pressing others to send photos and then using those photos for bullying or blackmail.
What seems lighthearted and fun right now can turn heavy and serious in the blink of an eye. Is it worth it? You’re giving a lot of power to that person on the receiving end… so think twice before you hit send!
Some ways to say no to sexting:
To find out more about the legalities of sexting and minors in Arizona: Udall / Shumway – Counselors at Law