Written by attorney Douglas Brooks Rohan

Sexting is Bad (for reasons you don't even know yet...)


Rohan Law, PC

I suspect that 100% of my readers with a teenage son (perhaps even some 12 year old) are at risk for being arrested right now and may not even be aware of it. And not for some traffic violation, but for a felony of child pornography. Forget whether or not you are in fact guilty of such a crime. Simply an accusation is sufficient to destroy a career and jeopardize a marriage. I strongly urge you to take steps now to minimize that risk.

In the modern age of internet pornography, opportunities to view inappropriate material are everywhere. You can access pornography on home computers, tablet PCs, and even smart phones. The media within which those access points occur are not limited to the web, but now include Twitter, Facebook, Skype, and a host of other resources. It is not enough to simply monitor internet pages anymore. After all, some youth are even engaging in direct messaging nude or semi-nude pictures from point to point via e-mail and texting.

As a parent, I hope that I don’t have to explain why this behavior is corrosive to a healthy image and lifestyle. But perhaps you are a free spirit that believes in openness and the human body as artwork and that youth are free to express themselves so long as no one is getting hurt. To those individuals I would point out that if you have a shared computer or shared media accounts, the police are likely to issue warrants against both the parents and the child for any illicit images that are found on the computer. This includes images that have been either transmitted to or received by that machine. The court system works, and the charges may eventually be dropped against you the parent. But at what cost? After you were fired? After you lost your license? After your spouse needed to seek professional counseling?

To avoid this and similar problems:

  • Always place the family computer in a public room in the house like the kitchen or living room;

  • If there is a laptop, set family guidelines that it is to remain in one of these rooms;

  • If you feel compelled to provide your teenager with a smart phone or iPad, do not let them sleep with them in their rooms;

  • Utilize all the parental control features on the devices and set restrictions on age appropriate downloads;

  • Establish an expectation that you are entitled to review your child’s messages and devices at any time without advance notice, AND FOLLOW THROUGH.

This is a different world than the one we grew up in. You must be vigilant and engage in parenting efforts that our parents weren’t required to. You are not being the bad guy, you are being the adult.

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