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"Sexting"

Advice for teens and young adults

Understand the risks

When you send something via email or text message, or place something on a blog or website, understand that there is no expectation of privacy. Even if it is supposed to be private, friends do copy and circulate information, perhaps as a joke that had not been well considered. Also, there are people who have great technological skills, capable of accessing data that you believe to be safe from outside intrusion. The risks are greater than most people think, and the more you do it, the more odds increase that your photos or text will be used in unintended ways.

Avoid making yourself vulnerable

“Sexting” may seem to be really exciting at a particular moment in your life, for example when interacting with a partner who is away for a period of time. But if you meet someone in a chat room and send him revealing pictures of yourself, you are asking to be exploited. It is really important to think about who is really trustworthy in advance of acting.

Trust is a complicated word

Who you trust may not really be trustworthy, or even if so today, may not be in the future. You really do not want a former friend or partner to have revealing pictures at his or her disposal. If vengeance is the word of the day, it only takes moments to move images to a website or blog, or to circulate them via email or cell phone messaging.

Keep intimacy private

Never put your pictures in a private album on a social networking site or elsewhere. Again, nothing is really private. With so many people using social networking sites, including people you work with, your boss, family members, friends, and so on, intimacy can – and does – become public. If you are e-mailing private or intimate text or images, remember that “forward” is a click away for whoever ends up with the email. Also take precautions to ensure that your e-mail accounts are as safe as possible from being hacked.

Don’t get too comfortable

It is easy to say just about anything and everything through texting, instant messages, and e-mail. A false sense of safety is created by lack of face-to-face interaction and not even having to say the words. With that being said, it’s easy to say and do more than you really should while sexting.

(Adapted from Collegenews.com – “The Do’s and Dont’s of Sexting” – 12/18/2008)