39% of our young people are posting sexually suggestive messages with 48% of teens receiving sexually suggestive messages. What should parents do?
District Attorney, Spencer Merriweather, and Assistant District Attorney, Terra Varnes, offered two workshops to parents at MPPC on sexting. Sexting is sending, forwarding or just receiving sexually messages or pictures. As parents, we want to empower our youth to be good responsible users of social media and to know the legal consequences.
Here are a few things we learned about what is criminal about Sexting and how it’s addressed by the District:
- Sexually explicit messages
- Inappropriate sexual behavior. Photo’s and Messages.
- Youth are prosecuted as an adult at 16 in North Carolina.
- Naked selfies are sexual activity and no one under 18 can give consent – legally.
- Sentence requirements are mandatory prison time for over 16, 58 months minimum and 30 years on the sexual offender registry.
- Under 16, could be 5 nights in Juvenile detention/curfew/probation.
- Receiving photos and being complicit (or ignoring) is still required 2 years in prison if convicted.
We do want to equip our young people. It is our role as parents to have these hard conversations but also to give them resources.
Tips for Teens:
- Don’t assume messages or pictures remain private.
- There is no changing your mind when it is posted. It is always there.
- Creating or Taking a naked photo is criminal.
- Don’t give in to cyber or personal pressure.
We are here for you as parents. We provide these workshops with new and current information so that you are empowered as parents. It is not so you parent out of fear but that you know how to love your young people and equip them.
Tips for Parents:
- Put the phone to sleep at night.
- Take away phones at sleepovers so they do not create video’s or pictures.
- Have uncomfortable conversations.
- Teach your young people the rules of GOSSIP: Do not share information unless it is True, Necessary and Kind. Teach this early so they know they cannot share another’s story.
- Take advantage of technology for your supervision (Keyboard stroke app, pushes content to phone).
- There is nothing private so looking at your young person’s phone is not invading their privacy.
- Practice healthy skepticism (Don’t be in denial).
- Provide language to youth for how to respond. I.e.: Please do not send me pictures of this kind, it is illegal for me to receive them and illegal for you to send them.
There is a crazy amount of young people sending naked pictures. This is a real issues. The district attorney is not making examples of our young people but they want to keep our young people safe. Tera shared that with her young people, she never tells them she trusts them. We love them but we know they are going to make mistakes. We hope this has been helpful and we will continue to have these hard conversations.