Maybe you’ve head the term “online solicitation” before, or maybe you’ve heard of adults getting in trouble for connecting with minors on Snapchat or Facebook. Online solicitation has become more and more common with the rise of social media and the number of young teens using it. But what exactly does it mean? And what are the consequences of it?
The Official Rules
“An adult commits an offense if he or she, through the Internet or any electronic message service, intentionally communicates in a sexually explicit manner with a minor or distributes sexually explicit material to a minor. Sexually explicit means any communication, language, or material, including a photographic or video image, that relates to or describes sexual conduct.”
Texas Penal Code 33.021 Online Solicitaiton of a Minor (b)
“A person commits an offense if the person, over the Internet, by electronic mail or text message or other electronic message service or system, or through a commercial online service, knowingly solicits a minor to meet another person, including the actor, with the intent that the minor will engage in sexual contact, sexual intercourse, or deviate sexual intercourse with the actor or another person.”
Texas Penal Code 33.021. Online Solicitation of a Minor (c)
What All That Means
Basically, the act of soliciting a minor online is an adult person making advances that become sexual to another person whom they believe is underage using the internet. This means that any sexual interaction online toward a minor is potentially a prosecutable offense. This is especially true if the person soliciting a minor intends to meet the minor in person, or makes advances without consent from the minor.
Should a meeting be planned but *not* occur, the adult may still be prosecuted due to their intention.
Should the supposed minor actually be of age (17+), the advancing adult may still be prosecuted due to their intention.
The most common example of this occurring would probably be sexting using private messaging programs, Snapchat, Direct Messages on Instagram or Facebook. It’s also important to note that under section C a minor may be prosecuted for this offense if they are over three years older than the other minor.
An offense for online solicitation of a minor under Section 33.021(b), is a third-degree felony, which carries a punishment of:
• 2 to 10 years in a state prison
• A fine of up to $10,000
If the minor is under the age of 14, the penalties can be enhanced to a second-degree felony, which carries a punishment of:
• 2 to 20 years in prison
• A fine of up to $10,000
What You Should Do-Teens
Don’t assume that everyone has good intentions!
Guys, you may think it’s fun and exciting to create relationships via social media. Getting to know people, finding things that you have in common with others, as well as having fun conversation, is great. But many teens make the mistake of thinking that the adults they’re communicating with aren’t dead serious about what they’re saying, and will do whatever it takes to make their fantasies and desires come to life. Even if it means hurting you. You could be in real physical danger should you share your personal information with an adult you don’t know very well, and especially if you plan to meet with this person.
Listen to your instincts!
If something someone says or does ever makes you feel uncomfortable or “not-right,” that is almost a guarantee that it isn’t okay. Your brain is very smart, and can sometimes pick up on small details that you may not consciously see, and it may tell your body to get out of the situation. You may suddenly feel sick to your stomach, or very, very nervous. Pay attention to these signals! If you ever find yourself in a similar situation, find an adult you trust and ask if what you’re seeing/feeling is normal. The best way to be sure about what’s okay and what’s not is to ask!
If you’re ever sure that what someone is telling you/ asking you to do is wrong, tell a trusted adult and report the happenings to your counselor, the police, or a local advocacy center. Someone taking advantage of you is NOT okay, and there are people out there who want you to feel safe. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. As a minor you will not be held accountable for an adult making sexual advances toward you. They should know better!
Be aware of these laws! Remember what you’re worth!
Here’s the bottom line when it comes to creating a great, healthy relationship. A person who loves you and has your best interest at heart will never ask you to break the law for them and endanger yourself. PLUS! If they really love you, and want to pursue a real relationship with you, they can wait until you become an adult to start any kind of romantic relationship with you. You are worth the wait!
Overall, remember that online sexual experiences are just as serious as ones in real life, and aren’t a joking matter. ThinkB4UClick!
What You Should Do-Parents
Make your teens aware of these laws!!!
Be sure and explain to your teens that unwanted advances from an adult are never okay, and should be immediately reported. Let your kids know that you are safe person to come to should they receive a message or photo that they don’t feel is right. Talk to them about being safe with their sexuality, and share any personal beliefs you have with them about their sex life; but above everything, assure them that they can come to you with anything that makes them nervous.
What you may need to know about this issue is that most teens won’t know that what they’re participating in is abnormal. If you never address the issue of what to do when they’re approached for sexual purposes, they’re going to believe that whatever they’re exposed to is normal and isn’t worth making a fuss about. As awkward as it can be to discuss sexuality with your kids, it’s necessary to keep them informed and safe. The goal is for them to come to you and ask questions before they click!