Written by S. Bowyer


     Sexting is sometimes considered the new way to show someone you want them. Instead of the brief wink, corny pick-up line, or innocent note thrown in their locker, teenagers and adults take graphic photos of themselves to gain interest from their crush. While the notion might be an innocent thought-provoking gesture of Would you like this? the long-term effects are much more serious. 

     In recent surveys, it's estimated up to 40% of teens were posting or sending sexually suggested messages. A staggering 48% of boys admitted to receiving sexual images of girls that went to their schools. Kids Helpline Australia's website states that sexting is not limited to mobile phones, but also instant messengers like Skype and social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, Tumblr and Snapchat. Adults also sext. Self magazine's research found that 92% of women had sent sexy texts.

     Not only is it a trend, but suggested as part of a working relationship. Amazon.com sells the following books, which classify sexting as a flirtation tool for sexually empowered people. 

 

 

     An article in the Huffington Post got their readers talking. Interestingly, some of the commenters said they believed sexting among adults was appropriate, until further comments bought up some issues that some had not thought of. 

      "I sext my fiance often were in our mid 20's he works nights so I have to give him something to look forward to after working really hard. A little picture to someone you're commited to never hurts.. I recommend it!!" - Hellokittiee

     "Until you break up -- and your beaver is everywhere. . ."  - Cosmos1922

      "So the study says sexting can be part of a healthy relationship...well, when that healthy relationship goes south and your photos end up being sent all over and posted for the world to see...exactly how healthy is that?" - JC2009USA

      "People need to stop acting like the worst thing that can happen is the world is you be seen naked. And anyone discriminating against anyone over this is just downright wrong. Stop pushing moral opinions off as laws. I can understand when it is an underage minor but grown-ups are supposed to be free to do what they want, as long as it does not hurt anyone. Stop trying to govern my life and control my life in aspects that you are not justified in doing so." - Vampyreincubus

     "No one's is saying you can't do whatever you want as an adult. They're only saying sexting may not be the wisest choice. You may not mind being seen naked but there are still plenty of people who don't have such an open mind. People who have power over your life like potential employers." - Cfreeperson

      "My mom gave me her old phone without cleaning it out & i caught her sexting my dad. They were married 18 yrs. Worst day of my life lol." - Aliesha

     As the commenters state, sexting doesn't just disappear. If photos are leaked to the world, there are a mass of consequences that can occur:

* family members could see them and be disappointed or affected by the images

* friends or enemies could see the images and harrass the sender

* the photos can come up on google searches years later, when future employers or educators search your qualifications online

* removal from high-reputation teams, schools or associations

* future partners might be offended or put off by the sender's conduct

* depression and social isolation

* legal cautions or charges for sender and/or receiver

     Despite your age, sexting can result in charges for both creators and receivers of sexual images. 

      Senders can be prosecuted for sending their images. Adults who send nude images of themselves to someone unasked can be held accountable under the Malicious Communications Act. It is illegal to send images that upset or offend the receiver. Further to that, what if the phone was used by minors that person lived with? Surprisingly, despite the high numbers of people suggested to be involved in sexting, many teenagers reported during a survey they were uncomfortable with it. 

     If senders are underage and send a sexually explicit image of themselves, they can be charged with underage pornography. Supplying another person with images of someone under the age of 18 is illegal, whether it is your own image, or another person. The receiver's age does not excuse the legal bind -- they are still under age and classified as distributing an indecent image of a child. In many countries, this act could also place underage persons onto the Sex Offenders Register. This list is said to block individuals from certain jobs, roles or lifestyle choices that may involve children or give access to children.

      It should be noted, being the age of sexual consent does not protect from sexting cautions and charges. A UK policewoman stated that although a 16-year-old girl is legally allowed to have sex, they cannot send sexual images without legal consequence until they are over 18. Similar to porn legalisation, 18 is the magic number for adult sexting. However, this would save a sender of 18 if the receiver is still a minor.

      Receivers of sexual images can be charged for receiving child pornography. Whether the image was planned or arranged to be received, or randomly sent, the person who owns the phone it was received on can be charged. 

      Additionally, sending the image on to others can result in charges of distribution of child pornography. Both scenarios hold risk of being listed as a Sex Offender. Distribution is not limited to mobile phone, and includes social media sites, posting them on a specially-created website or sending via instant messaging programs such as Skype. Furthermore, forwarding sexts can also result in breach of copyright, as it's not your image to share, as well as privacy and harassment laws that could be factors. Phonecalls and texts can be traced, so even if you delete the text from your own phone, it could be traced back from the phone you sent it to.

 

WHEN IS SEXTING SAFE? 

      Sexting would be safe in an ideal situation, which would be extremely rare. This would be: 

- a relationship where neither partner would ever speak of or share the content, even after a break-up that could be bitter (unlikely

- both partners are over the age of 18, and have expressed they do want to share such material with each other exclusively

- both partners' refuse to share their phone with other family, friends or acquaintances, nor never leave their phone anywhere someone could access it

     Possibly sexting could be safe in this regard, however, despite how much a relationship thrives today, it could end up in vengeful ruins in years to come. Additionally, it's quite common for phones to be lost or borrowed while a partner is out spending time with friends or family. 

      A Huffington Post reader, Dan W. stated, "Use common sense, people! Never text or put on a social network (such as Facebook) anything you wouldn't want your mother to see."

 

      Studies into sexting confirmed that such acts between partners or potential bed-partners over legal age were not abnormal or psychologically deficit, however minors indulging in sexting did cause concern.

      “For younger age groups, legality is an issue,” Debbie Gordon-Messer said in the news release. “They are also in a very different place in their sexual development.”

      Kids Helpline Australia gave the following suggestions to teenagers facing sexting situations:

  1. Report any bullying or intimidation you experience or witness regarding sexting.
  2. Refuse to pass on images.
  3. Never give into co-ercion by anyone to send images if you are unsure or uncomfortable (even if the image isn't sexual).
  4. Think about the future consequences if the image was to be leaked.
  5. Be careful of alcohol usage and it possibly enabling an act of sexting.
  6. If something does happen you are concerned about, seek help, such as Kids Lifeline (1800-551-800) or Bullying No Way.
  7. If someone sends you a sexy image you are offended by or don't want part in, delete it immediately (especially if they are underage), and tell the person who sent it to desist. If they refuse, block their number or change yours, making sure your new number is kept more private.

 

      Some experts suggest giving sultry texts that are more-carefully worded, giving idea without being directly explicit, or a photo that is sweet instead of candid. For example, send your partner an image of you in your bathrobe, fully-covered, sitting on the bed with a flirtatious smile instead. "Less is more," Debra Goldstein and Olivia Baniuszewicz, authors of Flirtexting, told Self magazine. "A little mystery keeps everyone's interest piqued." 

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