How should you respond when you discover your teen is sexting?

| Jul 23, 2019 | Firm News |

Sexting is the act of digitally sending or sharing explicit texts or images. Despite common misconceptions, sexting does not have to involve sending nude or semi-nude photos, though it often does. Additionally, one need not send explicit text or images by phone to engage in sexting; any electronic transfer fits the definition of sexting, including emailing, Snapchatting and Instagramming. If you suspect or know that your teen engages in sexting, it is important that you sit down with him or her and discuss the serious ramifications of these actions, as Ohio has strict laws regarding sexting between minors.

Many people do not know that sexting is illegal in many states. According to The Bark Blog, though Ohio has yet to enact specific sexting laws, the act, when it involves a minor, violates both federal and state child pornography laws. For instance, Ohio and federal law explicitly prohibit the creation, reproduction or publication of any obscene material that has a minor in it. If your child engages in sexting, the state may prosecute him or her for the production, reception, distribution or possession of child pornography, even if he or she is a child him or herself.

Because your child stands a lot to lose, it is important that you sit down have a serious discussion with him or her regarding sexting. If you discover your child sexting, you may be tempted to take his or her phone away. The Bark Blog recommends against doing this, as it could cause your teen to shut down and try to hide things from you. Instead, you should calmly discuss topics such as affirmative consent (which Ohio does not recognize) and go over the legal ramifications of the offense.

Because the conversation must be two-sided, leave room for your child to ask questions. Provide your teen with appropriate resources to allow him or her to come to conclusions on his or her own, and check-in with him or her periodically. By remaining proactive, you can ensure your message continues to resonate with your teen. Moreover, you can be more alert to potential problems and intervene before they become legal issues.

This article is not meant to serve as legal advice. It is for educational purposes only.