Sexting : Laws, Penalties and Parenting Tips

Feb 17, 2016 | Parenting Advice, Teens' Perspective and Reseearch

Teens Using Internet Unsupervised- Threats & Risks (2)

Sexting. A word that has long haunted parents with teens. Something that pre-teens and teens tend to take as a way of life and enjoying their lives and something that could actually haunt them for life.  What may seem to be tempting at first can lead to life-long humiliation and more often – regret.


Source: Permanent Picture: Teen Sexting

Sexting Laws – What Parents Must Know

Sexting is not smart thing but still many teens do that. Teens often exchange nude or suggestive photos with their friends through their phones. What they definitely don’t realize is that such photos can be shared with others without their consent. The pictures on the cyberspace remain there for anyone to misuse them.  All this can result in extreme humiliation, stress and serious mental trauma. There are cases of suicides by teens who could not stand it when their photos were tampered or simply made public.

We discussed the psychological aspect in our previous post on teen sexting but this post is about another aspect that teens don’t consider at all – the legal aspect.

That’s right. Your child could be committing a felony if he or she is caught sexting. And in man y cases, not just one felony but three felonies! A few years ago, sexting laws were quite rigid and it would be considered a criminal offense if a child under 18 was caught possessing or sharing nude or suggestive photos with others. They would be registered as a Sex Offender and would their name would remain in the police records for 10 years even if no charges were leveled on them.


Source: Permanent Picture: Teen Sexting

Now imagine what this little mistake could do their chances of getting a decent degree from a university and later getting a reasonable job! One check running on them and their past criminal record would pop up and there goes their education or job!

This is downright scary but teens are teens they won’t understand the threats and seriousness of the situation. They think sexting is just an expression of their sexuality.  It might be but it comes at a very high cost.

US States Without Sexting Laws

Now comes the tough part: there are many States in the US that don’t have specific sexting laws and therefore they would consider sexting under pornography law. That means if your child is caught sexting, he or she would be:

  • Charged under Child Pornography Act
  • Registered as Sex Offender
  • Sentenced 30 to 100 years in jail of convicted

sexting 2

Source: Permanent Picture: Teen Sexting

Here is a list of all the States that don’t have sexting laws:

  • Washington
  • Idaho
  • Oregon
  • Montana
  • Wyoming
  • Kansas
  • Minnesota
  • Iowa
  • Arkansas
  • Wisconsin
  • Mississippi
  • Michigan
  • Ohio
  • Kentucky
  • Alabama
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • North Carolina
  • New York
  • Georgia

And several others where the bill on sexting is still under consideration and is not passed. Parents can check the sexting laws in detail here.

Even the States with sexting laws are not easy on the matter. It includes:

  • If a teen snaps a naked picture of them and sends to others has committed three
  • They could be charged with promoting, distributing and possessing child pornography and if convicted, could face real jail time.
  • They could be charged with fine.
  • They could also face detention or jail sentence.


Source: Permanent Picture: Teen Sexting

What Parents Should Do?

Sexting is not to be taken lightly at all. Though parents can’t be on their toes all the time and they can’t literally be on their teen’s head, too but there are a few things parents must consider seriously:

  • Keeping a close eye on their teens
  • Talking with them about values and consequences regarding sex, cell phone usage and online activities
  • Using some parental control application to limit texting, Internet access and application blocking
  • Having a serious discussion with teens regarding the consequences and legal matters to their teens if they find sexual content in their phones

Remember that sexting is a very serious issue and parents who have teens must be extra cautious because one little mistake and their children can be affected for life.

FamilyTime helps families manage and protect their children’s digital lives.

More Post