Sexting is sending, receiving, or forwarding sexually graphic messages, photographs or images between electronic devices. Sexting might seem harmless, but it is especially problematic for anyone under 18.
Sending and even possessing sexual images or videos of anyone under the age of 18 is illegal, even if the participants agreed to it. In the eyes of the law, the person involved typically gets charged with Child Pornography, regardless if they are an adult or under the age of 18. The penalty can include a fine, jail time, and being labeled and having to register as a Self Offender for life.
Regardless of the law, what happens if these images or videos are seen by other people? After hitting “send”, the message or picture is out of your hands. It could be seen by anyone, including your friends, family, coworkers, or total strangers. Even if you regret doing it, there’s no guarantee you can get it deleted and it could have already been copied or shared. Sometimes people are even blackmailed, into doing other things they don’t want to do, with the threat of the photos or videos being shared.
Many people feel peer pressure to swap personal pictures and messages because they think everyone else is doing it, but research shows they’re not. In addition, a study by the University of Alberta show sexters reported feeling more insecure, often displayed lower levels of commitment, and had a higher degree of conflict in their relationships.
It’s not worth the risk, especially if anyone involved is under 18 years of age.
Remember, relationships should be based on respect and trust. If someone truly respects you, they will not pressure you into doing something you don’t want to do.