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‘Sexting’ on the rise among teens, FBI warns about consequences

Posted at 6:30 PM, Jan 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-24 22:41:42-05

The number of teenagers sending or receiving “sexts” is on the rise.

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, more than one in four teens report they’ve received a nude or semi-nude photo.

Now, the FBI is warning parents and their kids about the consequences.

“Whatever it is that you’re posting, the whole world can see it. And I guess the rule of thumb we’ve all used is ‘if you can’t show it to your mom, don’t upload it,'” said FBI Special Agent in Charge, Eric Rommal.

He spent his early career investigating online predators as an undercover agent.

Rommal said kids need to think before they post because posting or sending sexual photos can lead to serious consequences. Minors can even be charged with distributing child pornography.

“When a child uploads a picture of themselves, either with no clothes on or they think they’re sending it to their boyfriend or girlfriend, that’s technically the distribution of child pornography if you are underage,” said Rommal.

This comes as a shock to some parents.

“I had no idea but that’s very good to know, girls did you hear that?” said Beth Babineaux, turning to her teenage daughters.

The FBI said parents should talk to their kids about what they post online and also closely monitor the apps and games they use to talk to their friends.

“There’s so many temptations out there today and it’s a real challenge to keep them off their phones. So yes, be careful, be cautious, watch who you trust when you’re chatting,” said Babineaux.

“They say I’m overprotective but I try to keep [them to] a short time on social media and try to see what they are doing,” echoed another parent, Neisy Gonzalez.

The special agent said being protective of what your kids do online is the best way to keep them safe and out of trouble.

“We need to be able to know that our children are safe. I know in my own circumstances [I say] that when you’re an adult and you live on your own and you make your own money, then you can make your own decisions. But until then, I make the decisions about your internet and your privacy,” Rommal said.