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Sexting - Teens bare all on mobile phones

More 'sexting' nude pictures

Cindy Kranz - - January 13, 2009

In the Cincinnati area, where legend holds that trends come 10 years late, "sexting" arrived well ahead of time. Teens here are taking nude photos of themselves or others, sending them on their cell phones or posting them online.

Some teens do it as a joke. For others, it's the new bold pickup line to get a date.

A year ago, a 19-year-old Goshen cheerleading coach was charged and prosecuted for a misdemeanor, contributing to the unruliness of a child, for taking a topless photo of herself and a 15-year-old girl. A Glen Este Middle School boy was taken to juvenile court during the last school year for taking explicit photos of his girlfriend.

The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and last month revealed results of a study that showed 20 percent of teens say they have sent or posted nude or semi-nude pictures or video of themselves.

The results don't surprise local teens, school officials, police officers and others.

Are Cincy teens ahead on the 'sexting' trend?

"If I were to go through the cell phones in this building right now of 1,500 students, I would venture to say that half to two-thirds have indecent photos, either of themselves or somebody else in school," said Jim Brown, school resource officer at Glen Este High School.

Turpin High School Principal Peggy Johnson thinks that the results would be similar - about 50-50 - in her building.

According to the national study, most teens who send sexually suggestive content send to boyfriends or girlfriends, while others say they send such material to those they want to date or hook up with or to someone they only know online.

Brown, who also is Glen Este Middle School's resource officer, said of the 14-year-old boy's cell phone photos last year: "They were as graphic as you would see in any Penthouse magazine, I've been told."

The study also showed that 44 percent of teens say it's common for sexually explicit images and text messages - sexting - to be shared with people other than the intended recipient.

"Guys who get pictures like this from girls, I don't think girls understand that guys gossip way more than girls," said Taylor McCleod, 17, a Withrow University High School senior who is a teen leader for the Postponing Sexual Involvement program.

"And when a guy gets a picture like that, he's not just going to keep it between him and the girl. He's going to take that and show every guy that he knows that knows that girl. And every time somebody looks at her, it's going to be a loss of respect for her."

Stakes can be high
The stakes of taking and sending sexually explicit photos can be high, compared to the thrill at the time.

The consequences can range from humiliation to losing out on jobs to going to court. When kids are 14 or 15, Brown said, they don't often make the right decisions.

"They think, 'I have the right to decide what's best for me.' The next thing you know, it's on YouTube, and you become an international star because you're exposing part of your body. ... Then, they want to retrieve their good reputation, and they can't."

Kids have lost scholarships and jobs because of what's posted on Web sites, Brown said.

Many kids have "wised up," taking photos of body parts, but not faces, to avoid detection.

And while some teens intend for the suggestive photos to be seen by only one person, they might not think those photos will be forwarded or that something posted on the Internet lives on.

"I don't think it even crosses their mind," Daniel "Woody" Breyer, chief deputy prosecutor in Clermont County, said. "I think that kids are in the moment. What's going to happen today? What are we doing tonight? What are we doing this weekend?"

Going to court might not cross their minds, either.

Prosecutors evaluate the intent of the photo when deciding if charges are warranted.

"If this is clearly just a joke and everyone involved thinks it's funny, now somebody's mom sees it and gets mad. Technically, a charge could be filed," said Julie Wilson, chief assistant prosecutor and public information officer for the Hamilton County Prosecutor's Office.

"We're asking police to evaluate if it's a criminal charge or a matter that could be handled by the school or parents. For whatever reason, we have not seen a lot of these cases."

With so many implications, why do kids do it?

Besides peer pressure, the practice is provoked by what's considered acceptable in this culture, Breyer said, citing videos, such as "Girls Gone Wild."

"What is acceptable behavior in our country has just gone through the floor," Breyer said.

Christopher Kraus, director of the Postponing Sexual Involvement program at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, said that in his 20 years of working in adolescent medicine at the hospital, he's yet to see a teenage trend that does not mirror a larger adult trend.

"Adolescent sexuality is part of normal human development," Kraus said. "Teens are trying to figure out how to express their sexuality appropriately. They are learning, and they are learning from adults."

Kraus, who also is project manager for the Ohio Department of Health's new Guidelines for Sexual Health and Adoption Education, Grades 7-12, said teens are learning how to sort out many sexual messages in the media, including text messages.

"Some messages are complimentary. Some are offensive. Some are confusing. Each message is different."

High Schoolers Accused Of Sending Naked Pictures To Each Other

January 13, 2009 - Pittsburgh

Three Greensburg teenage girls who allegedly sent nude or semi-nude cell phone pictures of themselves, and three male classmates in a Greensburg Salem High School who received them, are charged with child pornography.

Police said the girls are 14 or 15, and the boys charged with receiving the photos are 16 or 17. None are being identified because most criminal cases in Pennsylvania juvenile courts are not public.

"It was a self portrait taken of a juvenile female taking pictures of her body, nude," said Capt. George Seranko of the Greensburg Police Department.

Police said school officials learned of the photos in October. That's when a student was seen using a cell phone during school hours, which violates school rules. The phone was seized, and the photos were found on it, police said. When police investigated, other phones with more pictures were seized.

"Taking nude pictures of yourself, nothing good can come out of it," said Seranko.

The Greensburg Salem School District issued a statement on Tuesday saying there was “no evidence of inappropriate activity on school grounds or during the school day other than the violation of the (school's) electronic devices policy.”

The school district said it only became aware of the arrest of the students on Monday and will continue to work cooperatively with police, as well as continue to enforce its electronic devices policy and educate students on the dangers of inappropriate use of electronic devices.

Police said the girls are being charged with manufacturing, disseminating or possessing child pornography while the boys face charges of possession.

"It's very dangerous," said Seranko. "Once it's on a cell phone, that cell phone can be put on the Internet where everyone in the world can get access to that juvenile picture. You don't realize what you are doing until it's already done."

One in five US teens has had tech-sex

'Sexting' popular among US youth: study

“Sexting,” sending sexually provocative messages via mobile phone, is increasingly popular among American youngsters, raising concerns that tech-sex leads to real sex, a poll has showed.

One in five teens have sent nude or partially clothed images of themselves to someone by email or mobile phone and twice as many have sent sexually suggestive electronic messages, the survey commissioned by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy (NCTUP) showed.

More than half of the 1,280 teens and young adults up to age 26 who took part in the online poll, conducted in September and October, said they had received a sexually suggestive message from someone else -- and one in five said they had shared the racy message with a third person.

Youngsters aged 13-19 are having tech-sex despite a majority of them saying it could have "serious negative consequences" on them

Just last week parents of two high school cheerleaders in Seattle sued the school for suspending their daughters for ‘sexting’ nude pictures of themselves to their friends and passing the photos around to staff.

Eight in 10 teens said they would be concerned about sending a sexy image of themselves or racy message because they "might regret it later," while nearly 70 percent said they were worried it could "disappoint family."

Where teen tech-sex gives real rise to concern among adults, said NCTUP, is that more than one-third of teens (38 percent) say exchanging sexy content makes dating or physical sex with others more likely, and three in 10 say those who exchange sexually suggestive content are "expected to hook up."

Bluetooth flirting
" You see girls and guys smoking hookah and using their Bluetooth to see who else is in the room and flirt since they can’t talk to each other "
Emirati restaurant manager

‘Sexting’ is not limited to U.S. youth and as mobile technologies proliferate they are allowing youth in socially conservative Arab countries like Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. to engage in new forms of social intercourse.

The wireless Bluetooth is particularly popular since anyone within range can receive the message and contact the sender without physical contact.

“You see girls and guys smoking hookah and using their Bluetooth to see who else is in the room and flirt since they can’t talk to each other,” said one Emirati restaurant manager who preferred not to be named because of concerns of privacy and propriety.

A survey of Saudi girls found that 85 percent used the Bluetooth feature on their mobile phone "in an indecent manner," and 22 percent sent "taboo" messages via their mobiles.

See also:
Close encounters of an illicit kind
The Teen Gene
Teen mag websites invite girls to 'rate' each other's bodies

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