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Young people need to know the legal issues with 'sexting'

You've probably heard the term "sexting" a lot in the news lately. If you're not sure what it means, here is the definition: Sexting refers to sending sexually explicit images through an electronic medium like a computer or cellphone. It is common among teens, but the ramifications of such actions can be very steep.

Some studies have shown that sexting is so common that one out of five teens do it. Cellphones are common in young teens' hands and peer pressure is everywhere. However, the pictures can end up all over the Internet, including the in-boxes of everyone the teen may know. Most teens believe that their nude pictures will never end up any farther than whom they were meant for. Unfortunately, that is not always the case and some people have even committed suicide rather than face the humiliation.

Here are some rather alarming statistics about sexting:

-- Forty-four percent of young males will forward sexting photos.

-- The same amount say they have received these types of images from girls in their schools.

-- Sixty-one percent of teens who sent sexually explicit material said they were pressured into it.

-- Fifty-five percent of those who have forwarded sext messages sent the images to more than one person.

-- Thirty-eight percent of parents have never seen their kids' online profiles.

Sexting has already led to criminal charges in the Juvenile Court System in North Carolina. It's important that our youth understand the risks associated with this behavior.

Those juveniles who are charged with a sex crime related to texting need a strong legal advocate. In some cases, the charges could lead to placement on the sex offender registry. These charges can follow a teen the rest of his or her life. It's important to understand your legal options if your child is facing such charges.

Source: ncdistrictattorney.org, "Prosecutorial District Fifteen-A Sexting: Educating Our Youth To Protect Their Futures," accessed June 19, 2015

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