In Others' WordsIn Others' Words

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Sexting: What's a mom to do?




Life as a mom keeps getting more and more complicated.

Back when my first three were teens, there was no such thing as "sexting"--sending sexual messages or photos via cell phones. They couldn't text at all.

Now a 14-year-old girl in New Jersey has been accused of child pornography after posting nearly 30 explicit nude pictures of herself on MySpace.com -- putting a whole new spin on the sexting debate.

According to a news story, the girl posted the photos because she wanted her boyfriend to see them.

Have mercy.

This much-too-young girl could become a registered sex offender if convicted.

Meanwhile, the debate rages on: Should teens be prosecuted for child pornography for sending racy text messages or posting illicit photos of themselves on the internet? Are people overreacting?

In my previous Cell phones and your kids: Sexting, anyone post, I mentioned the case involving three teenage girls who allegedly took nude or semi-nude photos of themselves. The photos were then shared on classmates' cell phones.

Earlier this week, a federal judge temporarily blocked a prosecutor from filing child pornography charges against thre girls. The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania said the teens didn't consent to having the picture distributed and that the images are not pornographic.

Even moms are divided on how to handle teens sexting. Some parents think prosecuting teens with child pornography laws is too harsh--that we are holding teens to an adult standard. Yet, the mom of Jesse Logan thinks differently. Jesse was an 18-year-old high school student who killed herself after her ex-boyfriend sent nude pictures of her to other girls in her school. Jesse's mom wants teens to understand the dangers of sexting--and realize that they could become registered sex offenders.

Parents should be involved with their teens long before they discover racy photos on their cell phones. Parenting means relationship--and that means involvement. Yeah, sometimes our teens aren't gonna' like that. Oh, well. Who's the adult and who's the teen?

Parents need to call it straight with their teens, too. What you did--sexting to your boyfriend? That was wrong. I still love you even though you did something wrong, but I'm not going to cover for you.

We love our kids when they live less then perfect lives. We don't try to make their lives perfect for them.

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