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Caught your teen sexting? Here’s what you need to know

Electronics are everywhere these days, and it’s increasingly normal for teenagers and pre-teens alike to have their own phones.

Phones, of course, have cameras — and that fact, coupled with the inquisitive teenage mind and raging hormones sometimes leads to “sexting.” Sexting is the exchange of nude or partially nude photos between two people.

Sexting involving minors is a crime for both parties

If you found out that your child has sent racy photos of their body to a boyfriend or girlfriend, your first thought may be, “What if that gets on the internet?” That’s a valid concern, but even more serious is the fact that the electronic transmission of explicit images of a minor is a crime, even when the minor is the one sending them.

If your teen was only on the receiving end of such images, you may be tempted to breathe a sigh of relief — but don’t. It’s illegal to knowingly possess child pornography in any form, and make no mistake: That’s exactly what those photos are if they came from anyone under the age of 16 (which is the age of consent in this state).

What kinds of photos are illegal?

Any photo of a minor’s breasts or genitals is considered child pornography, as are photos of sexual contact, intercourse and masturbation, whether real or simulated.

Just sending or possessing these kinds of images is treated as a Class A misdemeanor for both parties, which can be punished by up to a year in prison, although teens are generally prosecuted in the juvenile justice system. Even so, they can end up being locked in juvenile detention for up to 18 months for this offense.

If you’re concerned about what your teen’s sexting and the potential legal consequences, don’t hesitate to take action. It’s time to do more than take their phone away: You should speak with an attorney.