Be the Change, Stop Bullying & Cyberbullying

Dangers of Sexting

Sexting is the sending, receiving, or posting or sexually-explicit or sexually-suggestive images or videos. The term typically describes incidents where teenagers take nude or partially nude pictures of themselves, and distribute those pictures to others, mainly via cell phone, but also through social networking sites, websites, video chats, and e-mail.

There are several consequences from sexting to consider, including:

  • Facing charges of producing, possessing, and/or distributing child pornography
  • Loosing scholarships or being removed from sports teams
  • Electronic images are forever and once they are sent, it is extremely difficult, even impossible to delete.
  • Bullying and other personal consequences that come with it
  • Risk of having to register as a sex offender for the rest of your life



One in 25 Americans has been a victim of threats or posts of nearly nude or nude images without their permission (Data and Society Research Center, 2016).

One in ten young women have been threatened with the possibility of public posting of explicit images (Data and Society Research Center, 2016).

Advice for Parents

  • Open Communication - Your child probably won't bring up the topic of 'sexting' to you, but it is important to address it with your child. Don't wait for sexting to happen before you talk to your child about the consequences of sexting. 

    Some ideas on how to talk about sexting are:

    • “Have you ever received a nude or partially nude message on your cell phone?”
    • “Do you think it’s okay to send sexy messages on your phone? Why?”
    • “Has anybody ever pressured you to send a nude or partially nude picture on your phone?”
    • “What consequences could occur if you were to send or forward a sexually explicit message or picture on your phone?”
    • “How likely is it that cell phone messages intended for one person will remain private? How likely is it that they will be seen by other, unintended, recipients?”
  • Digital Footprint Reminders - Remind your child that once an image is sent, it can be spread quickly. You no longer have control over it.
  • Receiving a Sext - Discuss what to do if your child receives a sext from someone else.  Remind your child about the legal implications of forwarding a sext, which is also considered distributing pornography.




What if Your Child Has Sexted Another Person?

  • Stay Calm - Try to remain calm and support to your child. Reassure your child that they are not alone. They need your support, not your criticism. Do your best to listen without judgement and offer support. 
  • Response Planning - Discuss how to move forward with your child. You can work together with your child to resolve the situation the best that you both can.
  • Take Action - Agree on a set of actions to address the issue, like reporting the abuse and getting additional counseling, and keep lines of communication open with your tweens and teens about sexting.


The above information was disseminated from published material by the Cyberbullying Research Center staff (2014), August Aldebot-Green, Kaylor Garcia, & Mary Terzian at Child Trends (2013), National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center (2002)

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