The Naked Truth of a New Cell Phone Trend
Have you looked at your child's cell phone lately? A growing number of teens are messaging naked photos of themselves to their friends. Not only could it ruin their reputation, but it could land them in legal trouble.
At local high schools, most of the kids we talked to had either received, sent, or heard of people texting nude photos on their cell phones.”
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“I just got sent nudes last night,” said one eighteen-year-old.
“Girls send it to a guy and they send it to all their friends,” said another student.
“There's girls that send it to guys. And then if they're mad at the girl, they just start sending it to everyone,” said a girl whose friend sends naked photos.
“That happened to someone I know. I'm not going to say who. But he got mad at her and he sent it to the whole team,” a junior told us.
High Schoolers said in just a day, the photos would travel all over the school. But the embarassmeHave you looked at your child's cell phone lately? A growing number of teens are messaging naked photos of themselves to their friends. nt for the person in the pictures would last much longer.
“They just do it without thinking about it,” one teen told us. Another said: “I know in my high school that there was a a girl who took naked photos of herself and it went all through our school and it ruined her, 'cause everyone looks at her like a slut.”
Detective Dan Morgan works undercover for the Los Angeles County Regional “SAFE” team. That's the sexual assault and felony enforcement unit of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.. They get called in when photos or videos of teen get sent out.
The detective says anytime a photograph is taken of a minor, a person under the age of eighteen, of their genital area involved in a simulated or an actual sex act, it is against the law, and considered child pornography. Detective Morgan says pictures and video clips of teens involved in sexual situations are becoming more and more frequent. He believes the cases are under-reported, but has still dealt with quite a few of them. Sometimes the cases involve teens who have sent pictures or video to other teens, but other times it's adults who are enticing teens to take photos of sexual situations. And that is where the law is clear.
“There are crimes in California which make it a felony to encourage or entice a minor to pose for you,” says Detective Morgan. He spends much of his time gathering evidence to arrest adults who put teens in those situations. He says when it's a teenager sending a photo or video to another teen, the situation is more personal than legal. He says the kids usually regret what they've done, and end up in therapy, or at a different school.
“From what I've seen a lot of the kids have to attend therapy or change schools, and many of the kids are quite successful in the schools that they're at,” says Detective Morgan. “They're getting good grades, they're involved in sports programs, and now they have to change their entire life, and they have to go to a new school where they have a fresh start and nobody knows them because of a few pictures that they sent out when they were dating someone.”
Some teens we talked to said they would only send out nude pictures if they knew who they were sending them to, but experts say you can never really know. “When you send a photo to somebody that person more than likely is showing that photo to their friends, and passing it around and then once the breakup happens you become the object of ridicule,” the detective says.
Experts say kids should never send sexual photos of themselves to anybody. When they are adults they can make that choice, knowing the consequences, especially that they may end up on the Internet for everyone to see.
Entire websites are now dedicated to ex-boyfriends and ex-girlfriends “getting even” by posting nude photos. And many of the people in those photos thought they had a good relationship when it began.
Experts recommend that parents monitor their teenagers' cell phones, frequently scan through the photos and videos, and tell their kids why they're doing it, because once a picture or video is taken, it's too late.
Parents might also want to consider a program like “Radar”. Radar monitors your kids' cell phone activity by sending you a copy of emails sent and received, call logs, text messages, photos, and changes made by your child to their phone's address book. You get an instant alert on your phone when unauthorized communication occurs.