Teens define 'sexting,' discuss experience

    11:06 PM, Nov 13, 2013   |    comments
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    LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - It's a story we brought you one week ago, two Batesville teens charged under a new law for sending nude photos of themselves to each other. The story quickly got our viewers talking.

    Say the word 'sexting' in any high school and most teenagers will know exactly what you're talking about.

    "Sexting, to me, is like taking a picture of yourself nude and sending it to whoever you're talking to," said Sylvan Hill senior Deja Middleton.

    "I think it's pretty widespread. I've heard stories. I haven't done it personally but I think teens are doing it," said Connor Poteet, her classmate.

    They also know the consequences.

    "I have a friend that was really involved in school, smart and nobody knew about it and one day a picture showed up on the internet and it was all over Twitter and it was all over Facebook. Everybody was surprised but it was sad because she had to move schools because everyone had seen her naked. People were bullying her and giving her a really hard time about it," says Hadleigh Cahoone, a sophomore at Sylvan Hills High School.

    It happens more than you think, and last year one Arkansas mom took notice.

    "Juveniles that were caught sexting could be charged under the state child pornography laws, which is a felony. As the mom of a teenager who knows that sexting happens quite often, that really concerned me," said Sherry Jo McLemore.

    McLemore took the issue to legislators. Though there have not been any cases in Arkansas of teens being charged with child pornography for sexting, it has happened in other states.

    In an effort to separate the two crimes, legislators came up with a sexting law, making it a Class A Misdemeanor for juveniles to share sexually explicit pictures. The crime is punishable by eight hours of community service.

    McLemore said the charge sends a message to teens without winding up on their criminal record.

    "As long as you are not sharing it with anyone else, as long as you are deleting it, then you won't be charged," says McLemore.

    "I think there should be community service and I think, honestly, they should have to pay a fine. Especially if it goes on the internet and like out in the public and people see it," said senior Hailey Perez.

    It's a good law these Sylvan Hills High School teens say, but sadly, it will likely affect kids younger than them in junior high and middle school that are still too young to know the consequences of sexting.

    "You guys have grown up in the social media age. What have you learned, the lessons that you've learned, maybe not necessarily personally but from just seeing it happen to other people, what do you think you guys have learned about sexting and social media and all that stuff?"

    "Don't do anything on social media when you're angry or sad or just in an emotional state when you'll say something stupid," said senior Kylan Wade.

    "They really need to think about if I do this, will it come back and ruin my reputation or get me in trouble 10 years down the line when I'm married or in politics or anything big that could really affect them," says Cahoone.

    So far, more than twenty states have passed some sort of sexting legislation.


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