Everyone has a story. What's yours?
Linda Thomas

Northwest campaign shows sexting can ruin teens' lives

"I sent a photo to someone I trusted and now, thousands of people I don't know, know me."

Children of the Street Society, based in Vancouver, B.C., uses a popular video technique of white cards with hand-drawn black letters to flip through that message.

In this case, the message is made clear as the camera pulls back to reveal the girl on multiple smartphone screens - sexting, sending photos to someone, isn't smart.

"In recent years it has become very apparent that the issue of sexual exploitation has shifted online, and is continuously evolving due to the advancement and accessibility of technology," Diane Sowden, Executive Director of Children of the Street Society says in a statement. "This campaign is intended to raise awareness that, when you are online, there is no such thing as sharing just one photo."

The sexting YouTube ad is called, "Just One Photo."

I showed it to a group of high school students. They didn't seem fazed by it.

"Girl has some bad friends," one young man laughed.

That was probably nervous laughter. There was a lot of it in the room. Teens really, really don't like talking about sexting with adults.

"It's no big deal," one girl says. "If you take the picture in the right way there's no way to identify who it is anyway."

A lot of adults think that too. Case study, Anthony Weiner, a married U.S. Congressman who resigned after admitting to sexting with a women he'd met online.

In a more recent case, last week Knoxville police arrested two more teenagers in connection with a case in which a 15-year-old girl was videotaped performing oral sex on a 19-year-old man. Each teen had disseminated the video to at least one other person, police said.

In Iowa, the former executive director of a group that assists disabled people was fired last fall after he sent 11,000 texts and admitted he helped stage and photograph intimate encounters between a female volunteer and her boyfriend.

When teens are caught sexting, judges are put in a tough situation. For example, a 14-year-old who sends a nude photo of herself to her boyfriend can be charged under laws that were written with adult pedophiles in mind.

It's a felony under most state laws to distribute sexually explicit material featuring a minor, and in some instances, police say, a teen who does so would have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life because he technically engaged in child pornography.

Currently, Washington state does not a have a specific statute for sexting offenses. In general, anyone - regardless of age - who produces, distributes sexual images of a minor would face felony charges.

When I talked with the high school students about how they could get in trouble with the law for sexting, they seemed to pay attention more than when they thought they'd just get in trouble with their parents.

"That's serious stuff," says one boy.

By LINDA THOMAS

Top Stories

  • Key Difference
    Danny O'Neil says the Seahawks have the NFL's single biggest difference maker

  • Week In Photos
    Incredible images from around the world this week
ATTENTION COMMENTERS: We've changed our comments, but want to keep you in the conversation.
Please login below with your Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Disqus account. Existing MyNorthwest account holders will need to create a new Disqus account or use one of the social logins provided below. Thank you.
comments powered by Disqus
About Linda
Linda is the morning news anchor and features reporter for KIRO Radio. This is her local news blog, with an emphasis on social media, technology, Northwest companies, education, parenting, and anything else that grabs her attention.

If you have a news tip or story idea, I'd love to hear from you...

To leave a voice message for Linda about any of her stories call toll free 1-855-251-2363

Follow Me on Pinterest



Sign up for breaking news e-mail alerts from MyNorthwest.com
In the community
Do you know an exceptional citizen who has impacted and inspired others?
KIRO Radio and WSECU would like to recognize six oustanding citizens this year. Nominate them to be recognized and to receive a $2,000 charitable grant.