'Sexting' considered a serious offense

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT)-The idea of "sexting" is becoming more popular in the community, but most teens are unaware that it's a serious offense.

Some parents may not be as tech savvy as their kids, but they do need to be aware of what's on their child's phone. It may be what keeps them out of trouble.

Many teenagers do not know  that sending a text or picture that includes sexual related content could get them arrested and charged with child pornography.

"A minor sending to a minor can still be sexual child pornography because it doesn't specify if the child is the same age or not," said juvenile division supervisor with Craighead County, Ashley Boles.

"If it's send via Internet or via text or whatever it's going to be considered child pornography"

Boles said child pornography can also include emails and content posted on Facebook and Twitter.

"This is a serious offense, this is not something that is normal, this is something that is going to be dealt with seriously by the law," Boles said. "I have to tell parents if you are providing cell phone service for your child, if your child lives under your roof you need to be checking these phones."

On Friday the thirteenth arrest was made in a case that involved the rape and child pornography of a 12-year old girl.  The mother of the victim was also arrested for permitting abuse of a minor. Police found nearly 59,000 texts and picture messages in the child's cell phone.

"It's a class B felony, it's a serious offense. I don't believe that most juveniles or possibly adults realize this, that it is a serious offense to send photos or videos of sexual nature involving minors," he said.

Boles said teenagers should really think about the consequences of their actions.

"In juvenile court a person can face up to $500 in fines, up to 160 hours of public service work, up to 2 years of supervised probation, possibly sex offender registration as well as up to 2 years in the division of youth services," Boles said.

Boles said they are starting to see more and more teens charged with child pornography.

"It's an easy way to communicate with another person, it's quick and it's exploratory," he said.

If a person receives an unwanted text or picture, they should immediately file a report with police. And hitting delete does not make the pictures go away. Boles said teenagers should really consider their future.

"As a young person, if you're 16 years old and you are sending things like this, you know you need to start thinking about your future, what's going to happen when you get to be an adult," he said.

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