Rapid changes in cell phone technology has brought about many new legal challenges. One major challenge facing the current legal system is adolescents sending and or receiving sexually explicit content via cell phones. This practice is commonly referred to as sexting.
Sexting has become a wide spread practice among adolescents. Through survey data, it has been estimated that over 25% of adolescents have intentionally sent a sexually explicit image of themselves to another person. Over 50% have sent sexually explicit text messages and approximately 60% of adolescents report they have received a sexually explicit image from someone else.
Current laws associated with sexting vary and in many states may result in felony charges associated with distribution of child pornography. Most adolescents do not recognize the seriousness of this behavior and courts across the country are facing the legal dilemma of how to handle sexting cases associated with adolescents.
In addition to the legal consequences of sexting, adolescents who sext often face a number of social consequences. For example, in most sexting cases, the image or sexually explicit text message received by one party is often forwarded to multiple people. The person who originally sent the sext is subject to ridicule, humiliation and is often bullied by others. In some cases this has even led to teen suicide.
To date, Sexting has received little attention in the research community. However, when surveyed, most adolescents report they sent a sexually explicit image of themselves because they felt pressured into doing so. Others reported that they wanted to get “attention” from someone they liked. Most adolescents though reported that they engaged in Sexting with someone whom they were involved with romantically.
The online Cell Phone Safety and Sexting Diversion Course is the first of its kind and was developed by leading adolescent behavioral psychologists. The course is designed specifically for adolescents between the ages of 12 and 18. Those considered a low to moderate risk for future offenses should take this course. Adolescents who have sexted for the first time are ideal for taking this course, as one of the main goals is to prevent future offenses.
The first step in effective prevention is education. The online Cell Phone Safety and Sexting Diversion Course provides a evidence based curriculum that requires active participation by the adolescent, parental involvement and structured testing to assess fidelity and effectiveness. The online course has a number of objectives including:
Parents are vital in any type of educational process. In order to fulfill the requirements of this program, the participant’s legal guardian must complete a parental version of the online Cell Phone Safety Course. Most parents set limits about how much TV, internet or video games their children use. However, it has been estimated that only three percent of parents set limits on how much time their children spend using cell phones or other mobile technology devices. This portion of the course will educate parents on sexting, cell phone safety and how they can set appropriate boundaries and limits with their children.
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