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You might remember our blog post “Child Erotica vs Child Pornography” where we outlined the difference between the two. These are both child exploitation, and therefore equally disgusting, but it is important to understand the difference when we talk about today’s topic.

To define, child pornography is defined as: “Any picture of actual or simulated content of minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct; this includes graphic sexual intercourse, bestiality, and lascivious exhibition of the genitals or pubic area.”

What does this have to do with protecting our teens and selfies?

Are Selfies Dangerous?

A survey conducted by Now Sourcing and Frames Direct revealed that the average millennial spends an hour per week taking selfies. The report shows that an average millenial  can take over 25,000 selfies in their lifetime. In 2016, Google reported that they had over 24 billion selfies uploaded that year alone.

Teens use mobile devices to send these selfies back and forth on social media sites with their friends. That said, they can take the selfie several steps further and send nude images to one another… this is where the problem arises.

We won’t touch on the moral implications of sending nude photos over the internet, but we want to o discuss a couple stories that have hit the news recently.

The Independent posted this story which talks about a 14-year-old girl from Minnesota who sent a nude photo to a boy she knew using the popular social media site, Snapchat. Without her permission, the boy showed the photo to his friends, so the boy and his friends are being charged as sex offenders. If the conviction goes through they will be on the sex offenders registry for 10 years.

The International Business Times, shared this other story about a pedophile that coerced a 12-year-old girl to send a topless photo of herself to him.  Fortunately, the mother found out and reported the incident. Instead of just capturing the pedophile the NCA states she may face charges for sending the nude photos.

The International Business Times also reported in Sept 2017 that a 17 year old male was charged with distribution of child pornography for sending a picture of his penis to a woman. The story goes on to state that he could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

How Can This Happen?

You may wonder if two consenting people send photos of themselves back and forth how can it lead to convictions and crimes? Again, this is where it is important to understand the laws so we can clearly see how they are being enforced.

As an example, here are a few of the laws from certain states here in the USA. Child pornography charges can be brought up in these cases:

  • Sending, transporting, producing, possessing, or duplicating any depiction of sexual conduct involving a minor, with intent to distribute it;
  • Developing, duplicating, printing, or exchanging any depiction of sexual conduct involving a minor;
  • Hiring, employing, using, persuading, or coercing a minor to participate in the production of depictions of sexual conduct;
  • Advertising depictions of sexual conduct involving a minor for sale or distribution; and
  • Possessing or controlling any depiction of sexual conduct involving a person under the age of 18.

And yes, this is not excluding if the sender or photographer is a minor.

What Can Be Done?

Parents, we urge you to talk to your teens about the seriousness of this. Help them understand that they can be arrested, charged and convicted as a sex offender for sending nude selfies to other people. Even if they can get out of the charges, an arrest and court case can ruin their reputation and hurt their future.

It is important to keep in mind that the danger is not just to their future but also that photos on the internet are there forever.  Plus, child exploiters will pass these images around for years.

Help your kids to see that online relationships can be with malicious person, and as in some of the cases above, they can be grooming them to send pictures that will later be passed around, sold or used for sextorition.

In the meantime stay safe, keep our kids safe, and join us fighting against all forms of child exploitation.

 

image: Getty Images