WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Technology has changed our world. Some may say for the better. But it has also spawned new crimes, many of which involve children.
With more people staying connected through cell phones, sexting, or sending sexually explicit messages, photos or videos via text message, is popping up on teens’ phones. But new studies show fewer than 20 percent of teens send or receive sexually explicit messages. Some experts, though, disagree.
“I think it’s underreported,” District Attorney Ben David said. “I think a lot of people don’t regard this as a crime.”
“It seems to be staying pretty steady, and with the age of technology we are in now, more people text than they do speak on the phone,” New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sgt. Jerry Brewer said. “I think it’s something they are doing but don’t realize the consequences.”
Teens say sexting is a problem, but they agree most of their peers do not recognize the severity of what seems like a simple click.
“(It’s) inappropriate and disgusting,” Jada Richardson, 16, said. “I don’t like it. I can’t stand it.”
Logan Farriss, 14, said he’s never been involved and doesn’t want to be.
“I just hope I don’t get in it,” he said.
Both David and Brewer say the consequences are serious and could mean jail time and sex offender classification.
“If you’re underage and take the picture, you can be charged for creating child pornography. If you receive the picture, you can be charged for possession of child pornography,” Brewer said. “People really don’t understand when they are doing this what effects it may have in the future.”
David says although it may seem simple and fun, once an image is out there, you lose complete control.
“While they know more about computers than their parents, they lack the judgement and life skills to know what to do when they get into a situation like this,” David said.
“I think with technology that’s advancing, it’s probably increasing,” Chloe Farriss, 15, said.
Richardson thinks sexting is more about morality than technology.
“I just think it’s children,” she said. “I don’t think it’s technology. I just think it’s the youth.”
David says a good rule of thumb is not to send a picture you would feel uncomfortable sharing with your family around the dinner table.