New poll shows "sexting" is on the rise among teens

By: James Hopkins Email
By: James Hopkins Email

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - If you think your teen isn't sexting, think again. That according to a new poll that says nearly one out of every three teens and young adults are sharing sexually explicit photos and videos on their cell phones.

For some, the consequences can leave a lasting impression.

According to an Associated Press–MTV poll, 30 percent of young people between the ages of 14 and 24 have been involved in some form of sexting. "You hear about it at school, random people will come up and tell you about it," says senior Kayci Cates.

"It happens quite a bit, I didn't see a lot of it but I heard about it all the time," says student Michael Rinderle.

"About five times a year, like bad pictures," says senior Tyler Thulson.

Experts say it's a simple as a click and then before you know it, it's in the hands of someone who wasn't supposed to see it. "Normally it's a girl that sends it to some guy and he'll send it to all his friends and before you know it every school in the Valley has it," says Tyler.

In addition to the lasting humiliation, there can be some very serious consequences if a teen is caught sexing. "It's technically a felony offense to be sending over the air waves, it's a distribution of pornography," says District Attorney Pete Hautzinger. And if the person in the picture is under age the charge could be "child" pornography.

According to the poll, 17 percent of those who received a picture passed it along to others. "Every time you pass along the image on to another you have distributed pornographic material," says Hautzinger.

Some parents are trying to be proactive and teach their kids about this new trend before they fall into the cycle. "For them to be aware that it will happen and they will be exposed to it, and how to handle it and not pass the picture along," says father of two, Todd Thulson.

Others are just keeping a closer eye on their kids. "My mom checks my text messages, I have nothing to hide, I don't do that," says Cates.

Because in the end, when the text is received, parents usually aren't around. "I saw it and got rid of it but everyone at school was talking about it," says Tyler. But by then, it's a click too late.

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