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The Consequences of Teen Sexting

Learning about sexting involving your teenager can seem frightening and overwhelming. Read more to discover some of the dangers surrounding sexting, relevant terminology, and repercussions. Finally, read our advice and guidance on how to appropriately and lovingly discuss this topic with your teenager.

The Consequences of Teen Sexting

In an effort to connect with peers, some youth begin to send sexually explicit text messages to their friends. They may also send photos that include full or partial nudity. This is called “sexting”. Some teens don’t see it as a big deal but the consequences of teen sexting may be very significant.

Teen Sexting Warrants Help From Parents

Sexting often occurs when a boy or girl asks someone else to send them nude or semi-nude photos. Many girls who have sent such pictures say they did so because a boy pressured them. Other times, a girl may volunteer to send sexual images of herself, or even ask a guy to send indecent snaps. The feeling of being wanted or the excitement of exploring sexual curiosities can be very enticing to some teens. In these situations, we advise direct help from parents given the consequences of sexting. 

Sexting is damaging for girls and guys. Girls, who should be treated with honor and respect, are instead viewed as objects whose purpose is to provide gratification. They often begin to see themselves in that light. Guys quickly learn lessons about male-female relationships that are unrealistic. This leads to pornography addiction and relationship failures.

Beyond that, transmitting naked pictures of a minor (in most states, a person under 18) legally constitutes child pornography. Many adolescent minors have faced charges for transmitting nude pictures of themselves. Additionally, some teen boys can face child pornography charges. One of the consequences of sexting is the potential of ending up on sex offender registries for sharing pictures of girlfriends.

Sadly, many teens are victims at the hands of their boyfriends or girlfriends. A promise may have been made to keep nude pictures confidential. However, after a breakup there’s no guarantee.

Teens can seek revenge by posting these photos online (often called “revenge porn”). Also, after positing a photo, there’s no controlling who else might see it. Cyberbullying can ensue. The results—violation of privacy, ruined reputation and repercussions from parents—can be devastating. The humiliation can be so overwhelming that some boys and girls ponder suicide.                                                            

Be Proactive against the Consequences of Teen Sexting

Help from parents is essential, beginning with them monitoring their kids’ technology use. Your teen does not have a “right” to online privacy from you. The eventual goal is to have your child learn self-control and self-monitoring. However, remember that your teen’s brain is still developing. More often than not, your teen is not ready to handle technology’s numerous dangers. Much like our brains, our teens fall prey to risk, sensation seeking and novelty.  These things, when harnessed correctly and according to God’s design, will enable them to leave home someday. On the other hand, one of the consequences of sexting is addiction. Technology is addictive, but especially when it involves sexual imagery.

Help From Parents Requires Intentional Involvement

The best approach to sexting is to prevent it. Here are some things you can do to minimize the risks of sexting:

  • Have the Talk

Have ongoing conversations about the beauty of sex as God created it. Emphasize to your daughter that she’s worthy of respect and that her body should be treated with respect. Remind her that she also needs to respect the young men in her life. Teach your son the importance of treating girls as sisters in Christ who bear the image of God. And, emphasize the need for your son to respect the body God gave Him.

  • Openness

Discuss the topic of sexting. Ask your child if she knows if kids at school are sexting. Has anyone ever sent her an explicit photo, or asked her to send one? Ask her thoughts on the topic, and also how she feels about it. Make sure she understands the consequences of sexting. Talk about the heartache that can come from what might seem like harmless sharing of photos.

  • Safety

Let your child know that it’s safe for her to confide in you if she ever has made a mistake in this area. Fear of an explosive reaction never inspires a child to be open. Help from parents is most effective when it is given with a balance of grace and truth.

  • True Freedom

Remind your child that freedom is found in being trustworthy. Therefore, all electronic devices will be open to your eyes at any time. Consider adopting a “nothing to hide” policy for electronics in your family, without rights to privacy. You may also consider installing software on your child’s devices to help monitor and limit their activity.

  • Legal Realities

Make sure your child knows there are legal ramifications for sharing sexually explicit photos of a minor.

Helping Your Child Combat Teen Sexting

If you discover that your child has been involved in teen sexting:

  • Calmly and compassionately review the potential spiritual, legal and personal consequences of sexting. Your teen likely knows she did something she shouldn’t have. Our brains are primed to learn when we make mistakes. Strive for the end result of your conversation to be genuine remorse, learning, relationship building and maturing.
  • On your child’s phone, block the numbers of anyone who has shared explicit messages with him.
  • Ask who your child has shared photos with. You may need to speak with the other teens’ parents to prevent sensitive pictures from being spread. Additionally, help from parents can keep a bad situation from getting worse. It’s important not to act aggressively toward the other person.
  • Emphasize the need to rebuild trust. Your first thought may be to take away her phone forever and ground her until college. Regardless of whatever discipline you impose, she needs to understand that trust was broken and needs to be reestablished. Trust is on a continuum. It is not “you have it or you don’t.” There are different levels of trust. Provide measurable goals and verifiable actions she must take in order to move up the continuum of trust.

7 Traits of Effective Parenting Assessment

Good parents aren’t perfect. There’s no formula to follow, but there are ways you can grow every day. Focus on the Family’s 7 Traits of Effective Parenting Assessment gives parents an honest look at their unique strengths, plus some areas that could use a little help.

Teaching Kids How to Respond to Friends

What can your child do if he discovers that a friend is involved in sexting? The personality of your child could greatly influence his response. You may have a natural-born leader or a follower. As a result, this next step could be easy for some kids and very difficult for others. Help from parents includes equipping kids to do the following:

  • Respond with wisdom and not judgment. If it’s a girl who has been sexting, remind your child that many girls sext because they’ve been pressured into it. If the “sexter” is a guy, it may be appropriate to remind him of the possible life-changing damage he could do to a girl if any pictures of her got around. Also let him know about the consequences of sexting according to the law. Tell him that a court might not deal kindly with him if photos of an underage girl were discovered on his phone.
  • Remind the person involved that he or she is a person created in the image of God—and therefore of infinite worth. That person deserves to be treated with the utmost respect and should treat others likewise.
  • Encourage the person involved to speak with a parent or other trusted adult.
  • Reach out to the recipient of the sexting and make sure he or she is willing to delete all images. Ask if this person has sent the photos to others, and act accordingly.

Sexting Abbreviations You Should Know

Remember these can change quickly. Keep up to date on what abbreviations are being used through research, counselors or school staff:

NIFOC – Naked In Front of Computer

GNOC – Get Naked on Camera

NP4NP – Naked Pic 4 Naked Pic

POS – Parent Over Shoulder

Confront the Consequences of Sexting: Talk About It

Be a Noticer

  • Despite pressures to participate in teen sexting, how could the consequences of sexting hurt you far into your future?
  • Do you think the person asking for nude selfies really cares about the sender of the images? Why or why not?
  • Have you ever seen any sexting messages or know anybody who regularly sexts?

Be a Builder

  • How can you be compassionate toward friends that have sent sexual texts? What advice would you give them if they would listen to you?
  • How would you feel if other members of our family suddenly had naked pictures of themselves posted online or saved on someone else’s phone?

Be a Connector

  • What would you do if someone asked you to send them a naked selfie? What would you tell a friend who felt pressure to sext?
  • Why is it important for us to have an “open for review” policy for technology in the home? How can you encourage your friends to do the same in their homes? How can you enlist help from parents?

Copyright © 2019 by Focus on the Family

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Often, children act out because they are used to getting attention through bad behavior. Dr. Kevin Leman offers advice to help parents transform their child’s behavior. He discusses the benefits of allowing your kids to learn from real-life consequences and describes the importance of understanding your child’s temperament based on his birth order.

Dr. Kevin Leman

Dr. Kevin Leman

Dr. Kevin Leman is an internationally known family psychologist and an award-winning, New York Times best-selling author. He is also a popular public speaker and media personality who has made countless guest appearances on numerous radio and TV programs. Dr. Leman has written more than 50 books including The Birth Order BookHave a New Kid by Friday and Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours.

Bundle of Why Your Kids Misbehave

Why Your Kids Misbehave and What to Do about It

Tantrums. Talking back. Throwing toys or food. Meltdowns. Slamming doors. Kids know just how to push your buttons. You’ve tried all sorts of methods, but nothing seems to work. In this book, Dr. Kevin Leman reveals exactly why kids misbehave and how you can turn that behavior around with practical, no-nonsense strategies that really work . . . and are a long-term win for both of you.

Understanding the Root of Your Child's Misbehavior - Part 2

Often, children act out because they are used to getting attention through bad behavior. Dr. Kevin Leman offers advice to help parents transform their child’s behavior. He discusses the benefits of allowing your kids to learn from real-life consequences and describes the importance of understanding your child’s temperament based on his birth order.

Dr. Kevin Leman

Dr. Kevin Leman

Dr. Kevin Leman is an internationally known family psychologist and an award-winning, New York Times best-selling author. He is also a popular public speaker and media personality who has made countless guest appearances on numerous radio and TV programs. Dr. Leman has written more than 50 books including The Birth Order BookHave a New Kid by Friday and Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours.

Bundle of Why Your Kids Misbehave

Why Your Kids Misbehave and What to Do about It

Tantrums. Talking back. Throwing toys or food. Meltdowns. Slamming doors. Kids know just how to push your buttons. You’ve tried all sorts of methods, but nothing seems to work. In this book, Dr. Kevin Leman reveals exactly why kids misbehave and how you can turn that behavior around with practical, no-nonsense strategies that really work . . . and are a long-term win for both of you.

Loving Your Spouse Through the Seasons of Marriage - Part 2

Debra Fileta has identified the four seasons of marriage that correspond with our natural seasons – spring (new life and new love), summer (things get hot!), fall (showing our true colors), and winter (long days ahead). In this interview, she will help couples better understand the four seasons of healthy relationships, what to expect during each one, and how to carefully navigate them for a stronger marriage.

Author Debra Fileta in the Focus on the Family broadcast studio

Debra Fileta

Debra Fileta is a licensed professional counselor specializing in relationship and marital issues. She is also a public speaker and the author of multiple books, including Married SexChoosing Marriage: Why It Has to Start With We > Me, Love in Every Season, and Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are, How You’re Doing, and Why It Matters. Debra’s popular relationship advice blog, TrueLoveDates.com, and her Love + Relationships podcast reach millions of people each year offering guidance on topics including love, sex, and marriage.

Love in Every Season: Understanding the Four Stages of a Healthy Relationship

Every relationship goes through four life-changing seasons: Spring. Summer. Fall. Winter. Each season plays an important role in taking your relationship to the next level. And depending on how you navigate each season, your relationship will either flourish and grow, or it will slowly die. Whether you’re single, dating, engaged or married, join licensed professional counselor and relationship expert, Debra Fileta as she takes you on an eye-opening psychological and spiritual journey through the four seasons that she has observed in every healthy relationship.

Reconciling Faith and Science in a Medical Crisis

Dr. Lee Warren is a neurosurgeon who has faced many heavy challenges in his life – from serving in the Iraq War to removing deadly brain tumors to experiencing the loss of a teenage son. He’ll share about his difficult quest to find answers to some of life’s toughest questions, while holding onto his faith in God and the sure hope of heaven

Headshot of Focus on the Family broadcast guest Dr. W. Lee Warren

Dr. Lee Warren

W. Lee Warren, M.D., is a brain surgeon , inventor, Iraq War veteran, and author of I’ve Seen the End of You: A Neurosurgeon’s Look at Faith, Doubt, and the Things We Think We Know, winner of the Christian Book Award®. His previous book, No Place to Hide, was included on the 2015 U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff’s Recommended Reading List. Dr. Warren has appeared on The 700 Club and the CBS Evening News, and his writings have been featured in Guideposts magazine. His Dr. Lee Warren Podcast, which is heard in more than 60 countries, helps listeners use the power of neuroscience, faith, and common sense to change their lives.

Cover image of Dr. Lee Warren's book "I've Seen the End of You"

I've Seen the End of You: A Neurosurgeon's Look at Faith, Doubt, and the Things We Think We Know

This gripping inspirational memoir grapples with the tension between faith and science—and between death and hope—as a seasoned neurosurgeon faces insurmountable odds and grief both in the office and at home.

Praying Scripture Over Your Child’s Life - Part 1

Jodie Berndt loves to pray for her children. She’s been doing that for the past thirty years. Now she helps other parents to talk to God, asking for the salvation of their kids, and for wisdom, self-discipline, purpose, a future and much more. She offers fun and practical encouragement that moms and dads can put to work immediately in their daily lives as they prepare their children for a life in Christ.

Headshot of Focus on the Family broadcast guest Jodie Berndt

Jodie Berndt

Jodie Berndt is a public speaker, a Bible teacher, and the the author of 10 books. Find out more about Jodie and get some free resources (including printable prayer cards and calendars) at her website, jodieberndt.com.

Cover image of Jodie Berndt's book "Praying the Scriptures for Your Children"

Praying the Scriptures Over Your Children

You will discover how using the Bible to shape your desires and requests opens the door to God’s provision—and frees us from things like worry and fear in our parenting! This expanded edition of the bestseller features updated content on issues like technology and identity, and comes with new material designed to invite children into the family prayer circle. Purchase now and receive 10% off your product.

Mothers and Sons: Being a Godly Influence - Part 1

Rhonda Stoppe describes her early motherhood challenges of raising a son, which was intimidating to her. She found help through group of older women mentors. She urges moms to see their role as ministry in shaping sons to be good and godly men. Rhonda outlines several practical suggestions to moms about spiritual training, how to communicate with boys, and supporting the father-son relationship as a wife.

Headshot of Rhonda Stoppe

Rhonda Stoppe

Drawing upon 35 years of experience as a mentor, pastor’s wife, and homeschool mom, Rhonda Stoppe offers encouragement and guidance to women as an author and public speaker. She is popularly known as the “No Regrets Woman,” as she is especially passionate about helping women live life without regrets. Rhonda’s books include Moms Raising Sons to Be MenReal Life Romance, and The Marriage Mentor, which she co-authored with her husband, Steve.

Cover image of Rhonda Stoppe's book "Moms Raising Sons to be Men"

Moms Raising Sons to Be Men

Mothers of boys have the special calling to shape future men of God. Popular speaker Rhonda Stoppe, mom to two sons, knows this opportunity is a challenge, a joy, and probably the most important work of a woman’s life. Drawing from years of experience, this inspirational resource will revive the faithfulness and fortitude a woman needs to partner with God as they shape the character and heart of a future godly man.

Identifying Triggers in Your Marriage Part 1

They were both convinced they had married the wrong person. From almost the very beginning of their marriage, Amber and Guy Lia experienced various tensions and personality clashes related to house cleaning, backseat driving, workaholism, and intimacy. In this two-day Focus on the Family broadcast, Amber and Guy discuss how they bravely faced the triggers head-on, and committed to working on their own relationships with Jesus. As you listen to the Lia’s story, you’ll feel hope that you, too, can see real marriage transformation!

Headshot of Guy and Amber Lia

Mr. and Mrs. Guy and Amber Lia and Mrs. Jean Daly

Amber Lia is a work-at-home mom, blogger, public speaker, and co-author of two best-selling books. Her husband, Guy, is a former TV, feature film, and VFX development and production executive who has worked on popular TV shows and films. Guy and Amber own Storehouse Media Group, a faith- and family-friendly TV and film production company based in Los Angeles,

Cover image of the book "Marriage Triggers" by Guy and Amber Lia

Marriage Triggers: How You and Your Spouse Can Exchange Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses

A husband-wife team offers practical advice for married couples to end the cycle of reactionary arguments by examining the most common issues that trigger disagreements and apply God’s Word to radically transform relationships.

What to Do When You're Not Okay - Part 1

Life can be pretty stressful. Between work, relationships, and other obligations, the pressure builds, and we lose sight of who we are. Counselor Debra Fileta helps you better understand your emotions, assess your mental, physical, and spiritual health, and intentionally pursue a path to wellbeing. In dealing with anxiety, depression, and panic attacks, Debra understands the importance of self-examination as well as the benefits of seeking professional help. She offers biblically-based advice, tools, and encouragement to help you get on a path toward healing and wholeness.

Author Debra Fileta in the Focus on the Family broadcast studio

Mrs. Debra Fileta

Debra Fileta is a licensed professional counselor specializing in relationship and marital issues. She is also a public speaker and the author of multiple books, including Married SexChoosing Marriage: Why It Has to Start With We > Me, Love in Every Season, and Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are, How You’re Doing, and Why It Matters. Debra’s popular relationship advice blog, TrueLoveDates.com, and her Love + Relationships podcast reach millions of people each year offering guidance on topics including love, sex, and marriage. Debra resides in Pennsylvania with her husband, John, and their four children.

Are You Really Okay?

Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are

In Are You Really OK? author and licensed counselor Debra Fileta challenges you to get real with who you are and how you’re doing spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically so you can recognize where you need growth and healing.

Navigating a Toxic Culture with Your Daughter - Part 1

As a pediatrician, Dr. Meg Meeker has seen thousands of girls come through her office through the years. They struggle with eating issues, sexual identity, social media…and many other challenges in this toxic culture. Dr. Meeker will encourage parents to invest love and time in their daughters and develop their character to give them the best opportunity for a bright future, all rooted in a spiritual foundation. The discussion also includes healthy feminism vs. toxic feminism

Mrs. Meg Meeker

Dr. Meg Meeker is a pediatrician who is widely recognized as one of the country’s leading authorities on parenting, teens and children’s health. With appearances on numerous nationally syndicated radio and TV programs, her popularity as a an expert on key issues confronting families has created a strong following across America. Her work with countless families over the years served as the inspiration behind her best-selling books which include Strong Fathers, Strong DaughtersStrong Mothers, Strong Sons and The Ten Habits of Happy Mothers

Cover image of Dr. Meg Meeker's book "Raising a Strong Daughter in a Toxic Culture"

Raising a Strong Daughter in a Toxic Culture: 11 Steps to Keep Her Happy, Healthy, and Safe

Meg Meeker has been a pediatrician for more than thirty years, is a mother and a grandmother, and has seen it all. She knows what makes for strong, happy, healthy young women–and what puts our daughters at risk. Combining that experience with her famous common sense, she explains the eleven steps that will help your daughter–whether she’s a toddler or a troubled teen–to achieve her full human potential.

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Newest Release - Episode 1: The Truth About Life!

In this episode, we will tackle tough questions like, “When does life begin?” and “What does the Bible
say about Life?” You’ll discover and understand the stages of pre-born life and that babies are more than
just a clump of cells!

Yes, I Promise to Pray for the Pre-born and Their Moms!

Will you pray for the pre-born and moms that are facing unexpected pregnancies? We will send you a 7-day prayer guide that will help guide you along this journey with us!! You can even choose to receive this great resource by text!

Thank you for committing to pray for the pre-born!

Sign up below for your free seven-day prayer guide. This daily guide will help give direction to your prayers for the pro-life movement. We will be praying with you! 

Focus on the Family

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