What are the limits of control over electronic communication?
Before technological advances like the Internet and mobile phone messaging, it was much more difficult for someone to spread a rumor or circulate a harmful message or photo. A person either had to spread a rumor using word-of-mouth, pass around a physical copy, or go to the trouble of making copies and distributing them. Now, when a message, picture or video gets posted on the Internet or sent via mobile phone, it is impossible to know how many people will receive it. Because technology has made it easier to copy or send electronic content, you no longer have any control over a message, picture or video once you send it.
Remember, once you send an electronic message, picture, or video, you no longer have any control over it.
- Education & Career
Legal: Texas Penal Code Section 43.261, it is possible for a minor to be charged with either a misdemeanor or a felony offense for possession or promotion of child pornography, depending upon the circumstances. If a child is adjudicated for the offense of sexting, legal consequences may include probation until the child’s 18th birthday. If a minor who is not a child, is found guilty of the offense of sexting, penalties range from a fine not to exceed $500 to up to one year in jail. If an individual is convicted of the felony offense of possession or promotion of Child Pornography, penalties range from 2 to 20 years in prison.
Texas Senate Bill 407: Before Texas Senate Bill 407 (SB 407) was passed, minors who engaged in sexting could only be charged with promotion or possession of child pornography, which, if convicted, carries a felony offense and lifelong registry as a sex offender for up to 10 years after supervision expires– both extremely serious penalties. SB 407 Texas Penal Code Section 43.261 now provides courts less extreme charges and penalties that still discourage the practice of sexting without the life-altering consequences of a possible felony conviction and sex offender status.
In general, you are illegally engaging in sexting if you – knowingly or on purpose – send, show or keep a picture or video of a minor – including yourself – engaging in “sexual conduct”.
Explain Promotion and Possession?
Promotion: To procure, manufacture, issue, sell, give, provide, lend, mail, deliver, to transfer, transmit, publish, distribute, circulate, disseminate, present, exhibit, or advertise, or agree to do any of the above, sexually-explicit or sexually- suggestive images or video via mobile device or computer.
Possession: Having actual care, custody, control or management of material that depicts another minor engaging in sexual conduct that has not been destroyed in a reasonable amount of time.
What are possible misdemeanor conditions and penalties for sexting?
Class C Misdemeanor: A fine of up to $500.00.
You can be charged with a Class C Misdemeanor for sexting promotion or possession if:
- It is a first-time offense, and
- You are a minor who is not a child
Class B Misdemeanor: A fine up to $2,000.00, 180 days in jail, or both.
You can be charged with a Class B Misdemeanor for sexting if you are a minor and you:
- Promoted visual material with intent to harass, annoy, alarm, abuse, torment, embarrass, or offend someone Have previously been convicted for sexting.
Class A Misdemeanor: A fine up to $4,000.00, one year in jail, or both.
You can be charged with a Class A Misdemeanor for sexting if you are a minor and you:
- Have previously been convicted one or more times of promoting the visual material with intent to harass, annoy, alarm, abuse, torment, embarrass, or offend someone.
- Have previously been convicted for general sexting promotion or possession two or more times.
What are possible felony conditions and penalties?
Third Degree Felony: A fine not to exceed $10,000.00 and at least two years in prison, but no more than 10 years. You can be charged with a third degree felony for possession of child pornography if you are at least 18 years old.
Second Degree Felony: A fine not to exceed $10,000 and at least 2 years in prison, but no more than 20 years. You can be charged with a second degree felony for promotion of child pornography as either a minor or as an adult.
Consider This: It’s completely possible that as an 18 year old high school senior, you may be charged and convicted of possession and/or promotion of child pornography if the person you’re dating is under 18 years old and sends you such images and you have them on your phone or computer. The offense of possession is complete upon receipt of the images; promotion involves showing or sending them on to other people and is a second degree felony.
What are possible social and emotional consequences?
Bad Reputation: Even if you only sent one sexting message, others may now have a bad opinion of you. Just one bad choice could overshadow the positive image others once had of you. If you forward a sexually explicit image of someone else, people may see you as less trustworthy or even as a bully.
Isolation/Outcast from peer groups: Once you have sent sexually explicit digital images of yourself, your friends may not want to associate with you, because they do not agree with participating in such behaviors. Your friends may be put in awkward situations because they hear others talking about you and the images you sent electronically. Your friends may feel cutting ties with you is easier than getting involved in the situation.
Undesired attention, sexual harassment: If you post sexually explicit images, other students may now approach you asking for more images because they think you will be willing to post others. Even worse, you could attract the attention of an online predator or someone that exploits you by posting or threatening to post your images online.
Embarrassment and Humiliation: You may feel embarrassed and/or humiliated after sending a sexting message, particularly when you realize you have no control over who is seeing your images. Imagine how family and friends will feel when the see the images you sent.
Loneliness: Your friends may be put in awkward situations because they hear others talking about you and the images you sent electronically. Your friends may feel cutting ties with you is easier than getting involved in the situation. Your parents may also take away your privilege of having a cell phone or the use of any device.
Fear: You may be afraid to go to school or other places, because you don’t know what people are going to say regarding the sexting images. You fear going to social events because you will never be certain whether someone is going to mention or even show the images or video. You may also fear for your safety because of negative attention you might receive in the form of sexual advances or harassment. You may become a victim of bullying and excluded from activities by your peers.
Betrayal: When people close to you, like boyfriend, girlfriends, neighbors, or even family members, share the images you sent, you may feel betrayed. Strong friendships and relationships may be ruined because you were irresponsible using social media.
Remember, once you send images electronically, you no longer have a choice about who sees them.
Dating for wrong reasons: Someone may only want to date you because they think they will get you to send more indecent photos or videos.
How might your sexting behavior affect other people in your life?
Friends: As mentioned in previously, your friends may be put in awkward situations because they hear others talking about you and the images you sent electronically. Your friends may feel cutting ties with you is easier than getting involved in the situation. They may also be embarrassed or ashamed to be associated with you.
Family: Your family members are eventually very likely to see any images you send electronically. Remember, as previously stated, once you send images electronically, you no longer have a choice about who sees them. Imagine how your parents, siblings, or other family members might feel about seeing sexting images of you passed around school or in the neighborhood.
**Information in Blog is from the Texas State, Texas School Safety Center. Find more information about this and other subjects at https://txssc.txstate.edu/
What may be possible education and career consequences of sexting?
They Loved Your GPA; Then They Saw Your Tweets: For the 2013 survey, 381 admissions officers from the nation’s top national, regional and liberal arts colleges and universities – as compiled from U.S. News & World Report – were polled by telephone between July and August 2013.
31 percent said they had visited an applicant’s Facebook or other personal social media page to learn more about them — a five-percentage-point increase from last year. More crucially for those trying to get into college, 30 percent of the admissions officers said they had discovered information online that had negatively affected an applicant’s prospects.
**Information received from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/10/business/they-loved-your-gpa-then-they-saw-your-tweets.html