Modern technology is amazing, but the wrong click of a button has gotten many people into serious trouble – especially teenagers.
“Sexting,” which is broadly defined as the act of sending sexually explicit photos (nude or otherwise) to an intimate partner, has become incredibly common among young people. Unfortunately, what’s meant to be romance or flirtation can end up being a crime.
The problem with possessing and sharing sexually explicit material
Imagine this: Your 16-year-old daughter receives a “sext” from a 15-year-old boy she knows from school that includes full-frontal nudity while he’s in a state of arousal. She didn’t request it or even want it, but she turns the whole thing into a joke, showing the photo to a couple of her best friends – who are also in their teens.
According to Maryland’s laws, your teen has just committed a crime. Possession and retention of sexual images involving a minor under 16 years of age is prosecuted under Maryland Code, Criminal Law § 11-208, so the mere act of keeping the photo on her phone could result in both a $2,500 fine and up to 5 years in prison.
Even worse, sharing those photos with another minor is also a crime. Under Maryland Code, Criminal Law § 11-203, sharing the photos the boy sent with her friends for a laugh is akin to the distribution of child pornography. Your daughter could be fined $1,000 and spend a year in jail for each count if she’s convicted.
These days, it’s vitally important for parents to educate their teens about the laws regarding sexting, before it becomes a problem. If your teen has already made a mistake, however, make sure that you help them understand the trouble they’re in and secure a good defense.