How Do I Talk to My Child About Sexting?

Sexting, or sending a nude image to another person, is happening more often than most parents expect. In a 2014 study, “Youth Sexting: Prevalence Rates, Driving Motivations, and the Deterrent Effect of Legal Consequences,” Sexuality Research and Social Policy, college students in the study reported:

  • 54% reported sexting as minors. However, only 28% percent sent photographic sexts.
  • 61% were not aware that sending texts could be considered child pornography.
  • 71% percent reported knowing other teens who experienced negative consequences.
  • 2% of respondents reported that they notified a parent or teacher about a sext that they received.

I am often asked by a parent, “How do I talk to my child about sexting?” Sexting is dangerous in so many ways. The stakes are too high to do it even once. Here are three areas I suggest you cover when you talk to your teen:

  1. Sexting is a Crime
    It could be considered a violation of child pornography laws or felony obscenity. The law prohibits creation, possession and transmission of child pornography by any “person,” including minors. Some teens have been arrested.
  2. Sexting Affects Your Reputation
    A tween/teen’s reputation both online and off is precious.  Once a teen’s reputation has been tarnished by sexting it can be impossible to repair.
  3. Dangerous
    Predators posing as teens online may solicit nude photos or videos from unsuspecting kids and then extort them to send more pictures, video, or to meet them in person to commit a sex act.


Table of Contents

About the Author

Clayton Cranford
Clayton Cranford is a retired Sergeant from Orange County Sheriff's Department in California and owner of Total Safety Solutions LLC. Clayton is one of the nation’s leading law enforcement educators on social media, child safety, and behavioral threat assessments. Clayton is the author of the definitive book on cyber safety for families, “Parenting in the Digital World.” Clayton has more than 20 years of teaching experience and was awarded the 2015 National Bullying Prevention Award from the School Safety Advocacy Council, and the 2015 American Legion Medal of Merit. Clayton was a member of the County's Behavioral Threat Assessment Team, Crisis Negotiation Team, School Resource Officer program, and Juvenile Bureau.