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SEXTING, CHILD PORN, & THE POLICE

NOTE:
This post deals frankly but respectfully with issues regarding sexuality
& God’s design for humanity.  If this makes you uncomfortable,
please consider that we are discussing GOD’S DESIGN.

Before reading this blog you might want to read my other posts on “sexting”: Part I and Part II

Sexting_1Technology gives our children the power to do great things, and to make great mistakes.

So, what does a parent do when they discover that their child has been involved with sexting or child pornography?

You might not think that is a possibility with YOUR child, but it is really not that unlikely in the 21st Century.

Consider the following:

  • Kids are taking sexually oriented pictures & videos of themselves and others using cell phones, web cams, and digital cameras/camcorders.
    .
  • Kids can easily access porn sites that are “hosted” in other countries where the “age of consent” is far lower than it is in America, thereby accessing child pornography.
    .
  • Children, including teenagers, do not understand that viewing underage porn is not illegal because of THEIR age, but because of the age of those in the images/videos.  Being the same age does not make it “legal”.

It is more than possible, and technically very easy, for:

  • Your child to receive a sexually explicit image from a friend without requesting it via phone, e-mail, and chat.
    .
  • Your child, or another, to record sexual activity by phone or other digital recording device and “share it”.
    .
  • Your child to take explicit images of themselves to share with that boyfriend/girlfriend who “loves them forever”.

sexting 2There are very real situations.  I have seen ALL of them in my ministry.  In some cases the social damage to the family was so bad that the family had to move to a different town!  There are cases where the social persecution that resulted from “sexting” images “escaping” drove teens to suicide!

All of these can, depending on the situation and the laws of your state, be explicit violations of child pornography laws, not to mention they can put your family at risk to violation of privacy lawsuits.

Hopefully, you may never have to deal with these situations, but what should you do if you (or a “friend”) discover that your child either has been receiving or sending sexually explicit images of teens/children?  I mean, before you launch them to the International Space Station without benefit of a Space Shuttle???!!!

While I am neither a lawyer nor am I a law enforcement professional I would like to make the following suggestions, based upon over eight years in this type of ministry:

  1. IMMEDIATELY terminate the child’s access to the devices used (to prevent destruction of “evidence”, which is a crime in itself).
    .
  2. If you can, consult a lawyer who deals with Internet crimes and/or child pornography.  I can tell you that the problems technology is causing in these areas are outstripping the laws that are on the books! (See my post HERE.)
    .
  3. FOR SEXTING CASES: If you are unable to consult a lawyer you may wish to talk with your child’s School Resource Officer (a police officer assigned to the school campus).  The odds are that he is aware of these types of problems and can advise you.
    .
  4. FOR CHILD PORN CASES: If you are unable to consult a lawyer you will need to report the material to the police.  This sounds hard (and it will be), but you need to maintain control of the situation and not let it become a case of the authorities knocking on your door with a warrant.  That is a “Very Bad Thing”.  Every police chief I have talked with (mostly in Texas) has stated that his department would be willing to work with parents in these situations.  But, not all Chiefs and DAs may feel that way.  Your child MAY or MAY NOT be charged with a crime.  It depends on the situation (were they trading pics of themselves or were they creating child porn images/videos of others and/or distributing them, etc.).

Now, I know the first instinct of a parent (after that Space Shuttle launch thing) is to erase everything and hope it goes away.

NOT a good idea!

WHY?

ProtectionBecause you can still get burned, in several ways:

  • SEXTING: If you are upset because someone sent your child a sexual image you need to consider that this is probably NOT the first time he/she has done this.  If the “scandal” breaks due to another reporting it,  it gets traced back to you, and you failed to report it, then you could be legally at risk.  It depends on the laws of your state as well as the mood of the local District Attorney.  Remember, everything is traceable.
    .
  • CHILD PORN: There is little that law enforcement officials hate more than child exploitation/abuse.  There are entire divisions of Federal and State agencies that are devoted to tracking down child pornography and it’s users.  At a recent meeting with federal agents it was shared with me that the Government has the ability to detect transfers of child pornography via peer-to-peer networking IN REAL TIME. In some cases they have been able to dispatch officers to the home of the child porn users before his downloads are complete!  There are no secrets on the Internet. If your child has been involved with child pornography, especially if it does NOT involve sexting but, rather, involves visits to child porn sites and/or exchange of child porn files, then you need to be proactive and contact the authorities.

This is hard stuff.  I know.  But it is the reality of 21st Century parenting.

A wise parent will talk with their children about the dangers, and risks, of sexting.  They will also make sure that their children understand what constitutes child pornography and the long-term, life-changing dangers that involvement with child pornography brings.

Above all, filter your Internet and monitor your child’s communications.

You could save their future.

DISCLAIMER:
This blog article is designed to be educational and is
not intended to constitute legal advice.  Persons found to be
in situations described in this article are STRONGLY URGED
to consult professional legal counsel prior to taking any actions
related to SEXTING or CHILD PORNOGRAPHY.

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