Protecting Our Children- “Sexting”

In today’s world, most people don’t leave home without their mobile devices. While it is convenient to have immediate access to so much information, it can come with damaging costs and severe penalties. Therefore, it is especially important to teach our children about the negative consequences associated with social media. Here are a few things children, teens, and their parents need to know:

In Michigan, the act of creating, soliciting, possessing, or distributing sexually explicit photos of a minor under 18 is a felony (MCL 750.145c). Under this law, many local communities are prosecuting teens for “sexting” which is the act of sharing sexually-explicit material between mobile phones. If you are convicted under this law, you could face 4-20 years in prison.

In order to educate students, the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office has visited local schools in an “attempt to explain the possible ramifications — socially and criminally — of improper use of technology, whether it be smartphones, computers or other mobile devices”. Oakland County officials work to prevent sexting, other online issues By Paul Kampe, The Oakland Press.

The Troy School District has had a policy in place for several years now that goes even a step further. The school board adopted a social media policy that states “That in any suspected investigation of a sexting incident, a school official may search a student’s cell phone, computer or other electronic device if reasonable suspicion exists that a student has been involved in sexting,” reads the policy. “All evidence and electronic devices shall be turned-over to the appropriate law enforcement agency, and will not be retained by the district.” New Sexting Policy Allows Troy Schools to Search Students’ Electronics, By Jen Anesi, The Troy Patch.

Many school districts and communities have enacted similar policies. Check with your local school district to see what policies are in place, obtain a copy, and carefully read and review it.