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Help Your Student Steer Clear of Sexting

An increasingly popular form of communication is "sexting," or sending sexually explicit images and messages to another person. Although many say sexting is done just for fun, it can come with a hefty felony charge, believe it or not.

Students have sent inappropriate photos of their peers to others via cell phone or email, causing extensive emotional and psychological damage to those involved. And in some cases, students have actually sent nude photos of themselves to their peers. There have been cases where sexting has resulted in individuals — even teenagers — being charged with possession or distribution of child pornography and being required to register as a sex offender.

You can share the following tips with your student regarding sexting:

  • Remember that there are no guarantees that the text and photos you share will remain private. This can cause you serious problems when trying to apply for jobs, scholarships and more.
  • Keep in mind that nothing sent is truly anonymous. And even if the sender decides to delete a message or post, others may already have passed it on or posted it.
  • Don't take — or send — any pictures of anyone with your phone or webcam without their permission. This is about a person's right to privacy — and you having good manners.
  • Use your common sense. If the information you are about to send was about you, would you want the world to see it or know about it? If not, don't share it!
  • Know that sending nude photos of a minor is illegal. Even teenagers have been charged with producing or distributing child pornography — simply as a result of forwarding these types of photos to friends or classmates. And, keeping them on your phone is a crime too — it's called possession.
  • If you know who sent the photo, let the person know that doing so is against the law. Although confronting the friend might be tough, you'll actually be doing the person a huge favor. Think about what will happen if the police get involved.

Laws about sexting vary from state to state, but it's important to have this conversation with your student regardless. Should your student be concerned about himself or others, encourage him to talk with a campus professional such as a student affairs staff member, a counselor, a faculty advisor or a member of campus police.


Students and Sexting         Nearly four out of five college students have received sexually explicit images via text messaging, and more than half have received sexually suggestive messages, according to a recent study of 204 students conducted by University of Rhode Island faculty. Who's sending these messages? Two-thirds of the group surveyed admitted to sending racy emails and texts. Researchers say the results support larger technological trends.

      Source:, 7/25/11

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