The dangers of sexting

Image: The dangers of sexting

A 19 year-old girl drove into a police car while sexting her boyfriend ... but it can get worse than that.

A US college student from Texas A&M crashed into a police car while taking a topless selfie behind the wheel, say officials.

According to police, the 19 year-old girl crashed into the back of the patrol vehicle while sending nude photos to her boyfriend through Snapchat.

Sexting doesn't usually lead to car crashes, but the reality is there are even more serious dangers facing teens who send nude and explicit images to each other.

iKeepSafe says most teens are unaware of the short-term and long-term problems that may arise through sexting. Here's just a few of the ways sexting can lead to unwanted consequences:

  • Loss of control. Once an image, message or video has been shared, the sender has lost all control of where or how it will be distributed (you're not safe from this - even if you use Snapchat). 
  • Trophy syndrome. The girlfriend or boyfriend is highly likely to share it with friends (a main point of having the photo for most youth, and many adults, is to show people you have it).
  • Retaliation. When breakups occur, just imagine what some hurt and angry ex’s might do with the sexual images, messages, and videos they've been sent. 
  • Humiliation. The humiliation caused by having your explicit content circulated can be devastating. Simply knowing your ‘private’ photos are seen and shared by potentially millions of people – possibly including family members, school teachers, your religious leaders, neighbors, and pedophiles can be overwhelming. Knowing these images are part of your permanent online history that can be found and viewed by people for years to come can be devastating. In some tragic cases the level of despair and shame has led people to serious self-harm and suicide.
  • Sextortion. Extortionists and blackmailers have always leveraged their knowledge of other’s indiscretions, or their possession of compromising images and communications. There is no shortage of sextortionists hoping to leverage their victim’s sexual content for their own financial, or sexual, benefit. The number of sextortion cases by adults and teens in the news should be wake up call for anyone who is thinking of sexting.
  • Legal consequences. Sexually explicit photos, videos and communications, even when sent between minors, may be classified as child pornography, and the image taker, the image recipient, and anyone who disseminates the content may be charged and found guilty of crimes. Even asking another minor for sexual images may be criminal sexual solicitation.
  • Social consequences. These can include humiliation, bullying and cyberbullying, getting kicked off sports teams or other extracurricular activities, difficulties in getting scholarships or losing scholarships, difficulty in getting hired, and losing a job or elected position – as evidenced by the parade of elected officials and company officers who have had to step down over sexting scandals.
  • Physical consequences. Sexual content can increase the likelihood of becoming a victim of physical abuse. This abuse may come as forced sexual services demanded in exchange for silence in a blackmail scheme, through an altered expectation of sexual behavior by a date, acquaintance or family member, at the hands of bullies looking for an excuse to physically abuse someone, or even from enraged parents or guardians.

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