'Sexting' increasing among teens - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

'Sexting' increasing among teens



















SPOKANE, Wash. - If you don't know what 'sexting' is, ask your teen. There's an increasing chance they know and, at some point, have participated in the practice that's been on the rise in recent years.

The definition of sexting is simple: The act of sending sexually explicit messages or photos, electronically, primarily between cell phones.

According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, 20 percent of teens have admitted to some form of sexting.

Many different kinds of electronic mediums can be used to sext, though the practice is becoming more commonplace as more and more teens get their hands on cell phones.

"I think I've seen people in the halls showing people other photos that obviously weren't meant for the whole school to see," said Katie Nichols, a high school junior who knows the consequences of sexting. "Once you send them, they're out there forever."

A recent Pew Research Center survey found that 15 percent of kids ages 12 to 17 have received nude pictures, and four percent have sent them. Spokane County deputy prosecutor Bill Reeves is concerned mostly about photos and says nude or explicit pictures are what concern law enforcement officials.

"Girlfriend sends boyfriend an explicit photograph and almost simultaneous there is a breakup and boyfriend doesn't like it and sends the picture to the entire school," said Reeves.

Reeves says no charges have been filed related to sexting in Spokane County courts, but recently, teens in Thurston County were charged with child pornography for the exact situation Reeves described. The charges were later reduced to harassment.

Teens say despite the lack of prosecution, sexting is happening in the Inland Northwest.

"On my phone, I got a picture of some naked girl, I didn't know her," said high school senior Cody Eacret. "But then I ended up seeing that same girl. I thought it was a picture from the Internet, but then it was that girl... kind of scary."

The same Pew survey found that teens who pay their own bills, or have unlimited messaging were more likely to sext.

Experts say the best way to guard against sexting is to check your child's phone on a regular basis.

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