MESA COUNTY, Colo. As teens become more tech-reliant in all facets of life, including relationships, some are facing serious consequences. Nude photos, sexting and other intimate visual matter on cell phones can create dangerous situations for kids and can even be a very serious crime.
Many parents are unaware of the growing problem of technology use amongst teens, specifically nude selfies. According to the Mesa County Sheriff's Office, it's a serious problem they have seen here in the Grand Valley.
"If kids house nude photographs of themselves or send new photographs of themselves and it's on their devices, they could be charged with manufacturing child pornography," said Jeff Byrne, an investigator with the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office.
On top of that, if your kid sends a nude photo, the sheriff’s office says that can be considered distribution of child pornography. The Western Slope Center for Children said this usually comes into play in boyfriend, girlfriend situations, where one party will share the other person's nude photos they sent to each other, after a breakup. The effects of sending nude photos at a young age, can be long-lasting.
"There is a lot of bullying that goes on because of this, and what we see is its really damaging,” explained Jeffrey Schuster, a forensic interviewer with the Western Slope Center for Children. “Especially to their peer groups and schools and it’s really detrimental. I mean it can impact a lot of people."
Officials note that in the instance of a photo, it can be shared, which can snowball fast on the internet or through the use of a cell phone.
The Mesa County Sheriff's Office says this is important specifically to middle and high schoolers, and it's important to understand a nude photo is something that can stay with you for the rest of your life. They encourage parents to keep a close eye on their child’s phone, and their internet activity.