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Julliet
Julliet asks:
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How to deal with a 12yr. old boy who was Sexting on a dare by another boy

I found out my 12yr. old son sent a photo via text to his friend on a dare. I don't think this boys parents have a clue about this. I want to have a talk to his parents about this matter. I'm not sure if this would be the right thing to do because I read on here that Sexting is illegal. Help how do I go about this where neither boys get in trouble with the law.
In Topics: Children and cell phones
> 60 days ago

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Expert

Dr.Susan
Apr 28, 2011
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What the Expert Says:

Hi there,
sexting is now considered a very serious crime--even for minors. When discovered, kids have been charged with pornography and even put on the sex offender registry (all though I believe at least in some states this is changing because the legal system understands that a child making a mistake is completely different than an adult sex offender). That being said, while ideally the other parent should know what is going on, I'd suggest that you speak to a criminal lawyer before having this conversation. Your son sent the photo so he'd be criminally liable--not the other child, even though he dared your son. That child wouldn't be liable unless he then sends the photo on to someone else. You have no way of knowing how the other parents will receive your conversation and they may choose to be upset with you and your child rather than see their child as part of the situation. This is why I would like you to get expert advice before making that call. That is not to say you shouldn't make it, but you should know exactly what to say when you do.

Most important is the way you now manage your son. I would strongly suggest that you take away his phone and replace it with one that does not have a camera--at least for a period of time, until he is more mature. This is not necessarily a punishment (although it will be perceived as one), it is to protect him from getting in serious trouble. You should also have serious conversations with him about sending anything over the internet that could get him in trouble and then you should start monitoring every aspect of this technology life. I hope this helps.

Good Wishes and Great Parenting,
Dr Susan Bartell
JustAsk Expert
www.drsusanbartell.com
Twitter @drsusanbartell
NEW book “The Top 50 Questions Kids Ask”

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Additional Answers (1)

Sonsangnim
Sonsangnim writes:
First, you must have a good relationship with your son if he confessed to you. It's easy to make huge mistakes, much harder to face up to them. You are both on the right track in trying to solve this.

Next, if you haven't deleted the picture, do it now. Call the phone company and find out how to destroy the phone's memory. An assistant principal in Loudon County Virginia was told by his boss to keep a copy of a sext as evidence against the kids concerned. That copy was not used against the kids, it was used against the assistant principal. He was charged with possession of child pornography. It cost him $150,000 in legal fees.

Next, the parents need to know what is happening because it could cost them even more money paying to defend their kid against felony charges in adult court. These cases are not being litigated in juvenile court. Kids are being charged as adults. Kids have been charged with distributing child pornography, possession of child pornography, lewd behavior, all felonies.

Conviction as a felon means never getting a decent job, never being allowed to vote. It basically ends a kid's life before it ever starts. The kids need to understand that once apicture is out there, they have no control over where it goes. They should never send a text that they don't want every kid, teacher, principal and parent in the school to see by the end of the next day.

I cannot tell you the number of sexts that I have heard of and have been unable to do anything about them because I didn't know who the kid was and the other kids wouldn't tell me. They think they're protecting their friends by keeping the identity secret but they have no problem with sending them on to other kids.

It is time for serious talks with the parents of that kid because parents own the phones and can be  held responsible for the willful misconduct of their children. If the kid forwarded it, and he probably did, then he has both possessed and distributed child pornography, both felonies. Those parents are at risk and they have no idea. You need to insist that he tell his parents. Give him a deadline and let him know that his parents deserve to know that they are facing huge legal fees and public humiliation so the kid needs to keep the humiliation inside the family and take responsibility for his actions. If he doesn't tell by, say, the end of the next day, you will tell. Offer to help him by being there. Maybe a clergy person could help him. Do not tell a school counselor - they are required to report crimes against children, and that's exactly what this is. The kid needs to stop puttiing his friends and family at such profound risk.
> 60 days ago

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