JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – Text messaging seems to be getting people into trouble these days. There is the driving and texting issue, and the one that is bringing up the most questions is "sexting." Laws are always subject to change, but is teen "sexting" something that should be taken more lightly? As teens continue to become even more tech savvy, the more dangerous it can become. "I don't think they realize the severity of it." Ernest ward, a detective with the Jonesboro police department, says "sexting" can be a serious offense. He says, "If a juvenile is convicted of "sexting" of distributing child pornography they can forced to register as a sex offender and that registration would last you ten years."
Recently, some states want to reassess the sex offender laws for teen sexting. They want to classify the offense as a misdemeanor or juvenile offense. That would make it on the same level as running away or truancy. "I don't agree with that this is a pretty serious offense, adolescents, kids, teenagers make mistakes. After they become adults, they realize what they did was wrong and there's no way to correct it. Once those photos are out there, they are there and they are there to stay," Ward says.
Ward says he has worked similar cases, and they are doing their part to let teens know how serious of an offense sexting can be. "Teens need to be made aware. I've been to several schools and talked to many people. There have been times when I've done three or four talks per week." He not only talks about the risk of being charged as a sex offender, but says sexting is a new playground for sexual predators. He says, "We've made arrests where sexual predators were targeting children and young people through their cell phone. We've actually had a couple of those cases here in town."
Many times when teens send these types of messages they often get distributed, and could easily end up on the internet.