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Could your minor child be prosecuted for sexting?

Teenagers have embraced digital technologies in ways that many adults will never fully understand. Sexting, the sending of sexually explicit pictures, is a way teenagers are connecting with each other. When it comes to consenting adults over the age of 18, sexting is generally legal. In contrast, pictures of children under the age of 18 are considered child pornography. Teenagers who send and receive nude or sexual pictures of each other could be charged with a serious crime. 

Having a talk about sexting with your teenager might be awkward. It can be difficult to discuss sexuality with someone, but your teenager needs to realize the seriousness of sexting. The American Academy of Pediatrics makes these recommendations: 

  • Talk about technology use with your children, not just sexting. Let your kids know that you are checking in with them for their safety, not because you want to embarrass them or that you do not trust them.
  • Keep the computer in a public place in your home.
  • Talk to other parents about their children's social media use. This helps you keep up with the platforms kids are using.
  • Talk to your children about privacy settings and using good judgment in sending any message, including gossip, bullying and rumors, not just nude pictures.
  • Make sure your children know the consequences of sending sexual images. 

In Illinois, sexting falls under the Illinois Child Pornography Act. Offenses under this act are Class 1 felonies, punishable by fines of $1,000 up to $100,000 and a prison term of 4 to 15 years.

Kids make mistakes 

A youthful transgression should not end your child's future, but criminal charges or a conviction could be detrimental to your child. If you need legal advice about sexting to prevent your son or daughter from getting in trouble, it is a good idea to discuss this with an attorney who can explain your options for reaching the best possible outcome. 

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