How can we make sure our teens don't take these kinds of pics?
Here are some talking points to discuss with your own kids.
1. Taking or forwarding naked cell phone pics when you're underage is illegal.
Six Pennsylvania high school students are facing child pornography charges after three teenage girls allegedly took nude or semi-nude photos of themselves and shared them with male classmates via their cell phones.
The female students at Greensburg Salem High School in Greensburg, Pa., all 14 or 15 years old, face charges of manufacturing, disseminating, or possessing child pornography, while the boys, who are 16 and 17, face charges of possession.
Make sure your teen knows they could go to jail for taking or receiving naked cell phone pics -- and they could even be forced to register as a sex offender. This is serious stuff, with repercussions that could last a lifetime.
2. Just because you send a pic to ONE person doesn't mean they aren't going to forward it to 100 others -- or even post them online for the entire world to see.
Many of the "sexting" cases that are pending involve teens who sent naked pictures to tens, hundreds, even thousands of people. One guy even allegedly forwarded naked photos of his ex-girlfriend to HER PARENTS. Once you put a picture like that out there, you have no control whatsoever over who is going to see it. And no matter how much you trust your boyfriend NOW, you have no idea how he'll change when and if you break up. There are no guarantees.
3. Sexting has ruined -- and ended -- lives.
Jesse Logan sent nude pictures of herself to a boyfriend. When they broke up, he sent them to hundreds of other students. The girls at school harassed her, calling her a slut and a whore. She was miserable and depressed, afraid even to go to school.
Last July, Jesse Logan hanged herself in her bedroom. She was 18.
Sending a naked picture ended Jesse's life. Don't put your life at risk.
Phillip Sherman of Arkansas learned that lesson after he left his phone behind at a McDonald's restaurant with naked photos of his wife on it. The photos ended up online, along with their names, address, and phone number. His family has been devastated, and they are even suing McDonald's over their lives being ruined by these leaked photos.
5. Your phone could get hacked.
Both Vanessa Hudgens and Ashley Greene say that their phones were hacked and the photos were stolen. Nothing is 100% secure. The only way to make sure nude photos of you don't leak is NOT TO TAKE THEM.
6. Know that Mom will be checking your phone!
Moms, make sure your teen knows you will be checking the photos on their phone often. After all, you pay the cell phone bills. This should be a deterrent from them taking (or receiving) racy photos -- especially if they're fearful THEIR MOM will see them!
Some experts say that you shouldn't even buy your teen a cell phone with a camera in it ... but practically every cell phone comes with one these days. It's important to talk to your teens openly about sexting, and emphasize the many reasons why they shouldn't do it. Keep the lines of communication open.
How do you discourage your teens from taking racy cell phone pics?