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Teens and Investigators Talk about the Consequences of Sexting: - KOAM TV 7

Teens and Investigators Talk about the Consequences of Sexting: Emotional and Legal

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 Young and in love or just because others are doing it. Teens are sexting.

But they could face very serious, even lifelong consequences

Teens might think sexting is flirty and fun but along with the emotional consequences,  it's also a crime. That's because they're minors and nude photos are considered child pornography.

 Mya Hyles, a Joplin south middle school eighth grader explains the negative outcome a friend experienced.  "I had a friend who, her boyfriend she really liked him and thought if they had a good relationship, she should send a nude to him.  It wasn't the right thing to do. It pretty much ended  up ruining the relationship cause he ended up just talking  about it to everyone else."

 When it comes to sexting, some do more than talk about those nude pictures. They share them.

 Hannah Holland, also in eighth grade says,  "Whenever girls do send nudes , they think its ok at the beginning. Then afterwards  their friends show their friends and it just keeps going on. And I think it's more of an embarrassment  thing."

 Students say shame and a bad reputation are other repercussions  of sexting and  most often impact girls. 

Caleb Johnston, a senior at Neosho high schools says outcomes are,  "Killing your  rep and making other people want to come after you more and in a bad way."

Tania Wiest, a Webb city high school junior says, "They're just like, she did that for that guy I'm sure she'd be willing to do that for me too."

And that leaves senders to become a target for cyber bullying.

Tania says," I've heard a lot of things.  Something slips out and everyone just hates and shames and  spits venom on them. And they go to a different school, it was so bad. And then it's everywhere. And then  they see it. It's like you can't escape from it."

South middle school principal Stephen Gilbreth says the problem is,  "You can put something on an instagram account  and in twenty minutes one hundred and fifty people have seen it and read it."

Just one photo on a phone means you're  in possession of child pornography if the image is of someone under eighteen.

Investigators say sexting occurs in every area high school and it's a crime even if its consensual. "

Deputy Juvenile Officer April Foulks says,  "We have lots of kids, especially  freshman and  sophomore dating  senior boys.  Laws are being violated very quickly, very easily."

Foulks works with school  resource officers to investigate. She says there's never just one photo or one phone. 

  Foulks says, "Maybe seventy-five  percent of the time, they say, well yeah I sent one picture. So then you bring the other half in. Did you  send pictures to somebody  else?  That leads to another persons and that's how we get from one cell phone to  twenty cellphones.   When we have a big school investigation you  can go from  one to two cell phones to a hundred cell phones."

Webb city experienced that kind of investigation two years ago.

Kara Evansco, a junior at Webb city high school says, "I know this girl at my school.  She sent them to a guy and he sent them everywhere and he was eightteen and sheighteenke 16 and he got in a lot of trouble with it."

Superintendent Anthony Rossetti says sexting is still a challenge.  "We really haven't had an occurrence of that scale since, so that's a positive. Do I think we've eliminated everything. No,  we haven't.  Every year  a new set of kids acquires that technology. "

Captain Bob Higgenbotham with the Joplin police department says, "If found guilty,  if convicted,  they will end  up on the sexual predator list."

Students say some engage in revenge porn.

 Kara says, "When you break up with someone  they like post all of them (pictures) like on the  internet. It can be really negative."

Higgenbotham says,  "At some point, what started as a mutual exchange becomes some sort of blackmail issue or harassment issue."

That can result in state and federal charges.

Higgenbotham says, "Possession or distribution of child pornography."

Teens phones  are brought to the Southwest  Missouri Cyber Crimes Task Force. Detectives  can even determine on which phone  a photo was taken.

 Experts warn  apps make it possible to save images designed to disappear.

Detective Larry Roller says, "When you log in and when you receive a snapchat,  it will automatically take a screen shot of those pictures.  Then on your own ,you get eight seconds, so you can screen shot it yourself which only takes a second  to do that.  Then you have the pictures forever so they don't really go away."

Tania Wiest warns, “So, everybody's seen your stuff and that's stuff you keep private.  And it can very easily get everywhere!"

Investigators say parents are often more  scared of the consequences of sexting than teens. 

Once nude  photos are sent over any internet web site, it's possible for others, even adult predators,  to download them.  So law enforcement  links images  to the National Database for Missing and Exploited Children.

Parents get notified if their child's  picture was viewed.  

That can happen for  years down the road.
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