Sexting is usually an impulsive act. Because it is so easy to hit that send button, kids will do it without devoting too much thought to the consequences. As a parent there are several things you can do to try to deal with sexting.
Try to maintain open lines of communication with your children. This is always true, but when sexting is the issue, it is important they are not afraid to tell you if they receive inappropriate photos or are being pressured to send them
Advise your kids never to take a picture of them that they wouldn’t want their classmates, teachers, family or future employers to see
Encourage your children to think before they send. Remind them that once they have sent an image from their mobile phone it can very easily reach other kids at the school, a future employer or admissions committee at the college they plan on attending. And once it has been sent, it can’t be taken back. Same goes for forwarding a nude image that they have received
Familiarize yourself with the legal aspects of the issue. Explain to your kids that they could be charged with possession of child pornography. If convicted, your teen could be labeled as a sex offender for the rest of his or her life
Establish rules of conduct for mobile phones. It may be a good idea to require that your children leave their mobile phones in an open or common area at night, so there’s no temptation to sending or receiving explicit text messages and pictures when you are assuming they have gone to bed. Explain the consequences for failing to comply with the rules.
Ask your children
After the fact
Tell your kids – if they receive a nude picture on their mobile phone, they should:
- Report the fact that they have received a nude photo to you or to any other adult they trust. Try to understand why the photo was sent
- Save the message
- Avoid forwarding the message on to others. Explain that they may be charged with distributing child pornography, and explain what the consequences of this could be.
It may be advisable that you contact the parents of the other kids that are involved – in order to keep everyone out of trouble.
Explain that they may be charged with producing and distributing child pornography. Also explain the possible consequences this action could have for their social and mental well being.