Las Vegas Sun

December 6, 2021

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Sun editorial:

A parent’s nightmare

A study says 1 in 5 teenagers have sent nude photos of themselves via their cell phones

In July, Jesse Logan, an 18-year-old Ohio girl, left her cell phone in the middle of her bedroom and hanged herself, a tragic ending to a terrible story.

Months earlier an ex-boyfriend had forwarded a nude photo of her, which she had sent to his cell phone when they were seeing each other, to friends after they broke up. It was then forwarded around her high school and around the Cincinnati area.

When Jesse went out, she was often recognized and harassed. Girls at school were calling her names and bullying her. Her mother said that despite the teen’s effort to get help from administrators, the school did nothing to stop the bullying.

The tragic case highlights the issue of “sexting” — sending nude or semi-nude photos or videos via text messaging. A recent survey reports 18 percent of teenage boys and 22 percent of teenage girls have sent such messages.

This year police have investigated sexting involving at least two dozen teens in six states, according to USA Today. Soliciting, sending or keeping nude photos of juveniles is illegal. The way police usually get involved is that parents or schools tip them off, and it usually comes when photos are forwarded after a breakup.

Investigators say teens seem to be blind to the implications of sending these photos. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, though, says it can be extremely dangerous. The center has identified 2,100 children as victims of online pornography — a quarter of them initially sent the image themselves.

Police and school administrators are often the first adults to deal with these cases, and they shouldn’t be. Parents should talk to their children about sexting. In the Internet age, a childhood indiscretion can have dire consequences.

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