Sexting can come with serious penalties for minors

Sexting is a becoming more popular among teens, and it could land your child in jail. The dangers of sexting is one of the topics covered this week as part of Kentucky Safe Schools Week.

Wednesday, freshmen at Marshall County High School got a rundown of how their actions today could impact their futures negatively.

Like all students at MCHS, freshmen Kaycee Kemp and Cydney Temple have bright futures ahead.  

“I want to go to college for athletics, I actually pole vault," Temple said.

“I would like to go to college for softball,” Kemp said. 

They have such high hopes for their future that they won’t let something like sexting ruin it. That’s why Karen McCuiston stopped by to let students know that sexting is illegal for minors and decisions they make online can land them in jail.

“I didn’t know it was illegal. But, like, I knew it was bad, like don’t do it. But, I never knew it was against the law,” Kemp said. Kemp and Temple say they aren’t sure everyone was listening at the Kentucky Safe Schools Week assembly, though. “I feel like the ones that weren’t taking it seriously, like, know that it’s serious, but they don’t really care,” Kemp said.

But, attorney Don Thomas said he believes they should listen. He has represented many minors in digital situations and says some were facing years in prison. “If they send a private part, whether it be genitalia or the upper part of the woman’s body, that is child pornography.” Having those pictures or sending them, even with consent, is a class C felony, Thomas said.

Kemp has one response to her friends who may want to send a bad photo: “If he’s going to use you for something like that, I don’t think he’s worth your time.”

The most important thing you can do to keep your child out of trouble is talk to them. Many kids don’t know the consequences, and Thomas says you shouldn’t wait until they’re 16 or 17. You should start as early as 14 years old, or when they first get a smartphone. If you’re having a hard time bringing up the topic with your kids, Thomas says you can bring them to his law office in Benton, and he’ll talk with them about the possible consequences.

It’s also important that your child give you access to their phone, including their passwords. Thomas advises also that you make sure there isn’t a secret application on their phone that requires a separate password to hide explicit photos. 

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