Sexting is defined as “the sending of sexually explicit digital images, videos, text messages, or emails, usually by cell phone.”22 Sexually explicit pictures can be exchanged or obtained in numerous ways including flirting, a profession of love, response to threats of breaking up, hacking, demands, catfishing. They can also be obtained through someone who was a friend. Sometimes bullying or harassment happens as a result of sexual images that are shared and spread around.

Watch the video below and ask yourself:

  • What is the girl's name?
  • Did she deserve what happened?

Video | 4:28

Lawmakers have recently realized that when bullying, harassment, and sexting are combined, the consequences can range from life-altering to deadly.

Sadly, pictures shared with an expectation of privacy, often do not stay private. The legal community has labeled this as “revenge porn” since often, as retaliation, these photos are shared after the relationship ends. In revenge porn, the pictures are often sent out (usually with no warning) either to ruin the life of the victim or to heighten the status of the sender. Examples include:

  • Teens proving their sexual prowess to gain status among peers; this can happen with any gender.
  • Exes may do it to embarrass or humiliate the other person (revenge).
  • Frenemies may do it because they are jealous, in a fight, or are bullying.

As you will see in the next module, laws have been passed so that revenge port and sextortion carry severe penalties. In fact, even threatening revenge porn or sextortion can get you in trouble with the law.

What Young People May Think About Sexting

  • It is just flirting.
  • I can tell if someone is lying.
  • No biggie, nothing will happen.
  • Do not tell, they will take your phone.
  • Adults don't get it, it's modern-day flirting or spin-the-bottle.
  • Common beliefs:
    • He loves me, so he will not share it with others.
    • If I send it, girls will think I am hot.
    • If I do not send it, then he will break up with me.
    • Wait until the guys see this.
    • Hey if she did not want people to see it, then she would not have sent it.
    • Everybody does it. What is the big deal?

What Adults May Think About Sexting

  • My child knows better and would never do that.
  • I check my child’s phone.
  • Only bad kids do that.
  • I talk to my kids and they would tell me if they were sexting.
  • My child does not even think about sex yet.

Watch the video below and ask yourself:

  • Who is in the wrong? Legally? Morally?

Video | 3:02

What Predators Think About Sexting

  1. A sick sense of pleasure
    • They are motivated by the thrill of the chase or feeling superior to their victims.
    • They may have been abused and are determined to punish others to get revenge.
  2. Money
    • Phone hacking is fast, simple, and yields personal data, social media, pictures, banking info, etc.
    • Individuals or companies often pretend to be looking for models, and offer to buy selfies or seek sexualized images, but their true motive is selling nude pictures of underage individuals.
  3. Community
    • Predators, especially those who prey on young people, no longer have to hide in the shadows but network together on the internet to share techniques and images.

What We Know About Sexting

  • Sexting is a safety issue.
  • There is no way to completely delete anything on the Internet.
  • Once these pictures are shared, they almost always get spread.

Pictures and video with sexual content are of value on the black market no matter how they are obtained, shared, found, or catfished. Pictures are traded like baseball cards among predators to add to collections, be used as revenge, or to manipulate people for profit. Once sexualized photos are taken and shared, they almost always boomerang back, which leads to one of the fastest growing crimes in the world – sextortion.


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