We've all heard about texting and many of us probably do it daily. However, a term you might not be familiar with is "sexting". It's a growing trend among high school students and sometimes younger. Teens are taking pictures of themselves nude with cell phones, but what's scarier they could get criminal charges for doing it. Our investigative reporter, Nicole Pesecky has more on this parent alert.
A national study shows that almost half of teens polled say they've gotten a sexually suggestive message from someone. Most teens we talked with in Lubbock, tell us they've somehow engaged in sexting. What many teenagers don't know, once they hit that send button, they could be hit with child porn charges.
Almost everyone uses their cell phones to snap pics these days, but do you think about where that picture might end up?
One third of teen boys (33%) and one fourth of girls (25%) say they've seen nude images, they weren't meant to see. These stats would outrage most parents, but Lubbock teens we talked to were hardly surprised. "It goes on a lot. There's people that try to "get some" at school," explains one Lubbock high school student.
Sexting isn't limited to teenagers. One student tells us he's done it and he's seen 11-year-olds take part in sexting. If that's not scary enough, teens involved could be slapped with criminal charges.
Police say if you get caught with nude pictures of underagers on your phone, you could face child pornography and or distribution charges. If found guilty, you would then have to register as a sex offender.
Most don't realize how serious sexting really is. We sat down with some parents to let them in on the latest trend. Nelda Lopez has two kids. She says her children are educated when it comes to sexting. "They immediately started to tell me what it was, they know more than I do," Lopez explains.
As technology evolves it's not exactly easy to be a parent. "It's very exhausting and it's very hard to keep up. I mean it's almost impossible," one local parent tells us.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott says parents need to know what their child is doing via text or email. "It's not like a diary that's private, once it gets on the internet the whole world gets to see it," Abbott explains.
So how do you ensure your child doesn't get sent pictures that could send them to the slammer? One solution is "My Mobile Watchdog". It's a cell phone that monitors your child's calls, texts and pictures. So you the parent, have complete control.
A group of Lubbock parents feel the real solution comes from home. "I would monitor facebook, myspace, texting periodically - you don't have to do it every day," explains one mom.
Parents say it's their job to inform their kids on what's going on and the consequences before they get involved in something illegal. "Once they enter middle school they need to be educated," a concerned mom tells us. At the end of the day, it's up to the child to make the right decision.
We checked with the Lubbock Police Department who say they have a handful of sexting related cases which are still pending in the Lubbock District Attorney's office.
If your cell phone carrier is Sprint, they offer a package which shows pictures that have been sent, received and forwarded. Click here for more information on that package from Sprint.
Decoding what your teen is texting
Eighty percent of America's teens have a cell phone. Most get their first cell around the age of 11 and almost all of them text. NewsChannel 11's Christy Moreland cracks the teen texting code so they can no longer KPS, which is the code for 'keep parents clueless'.