LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - Whether it's love, peer pressure, or just experimentation, sexting can have some serious consequences.
According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children one in six teenagers have experimented with sexting. Sexting is the exchange of sexual text messages or pictures.
Detective Sergeant Scott McCoy with the Lafayette Police Department said if nude photographs are found on a minor's phone, whether they sent them or received them, the teen could face some serious charges.
"We've been able to charge the older boyfriend who is in receipt of those and the child who actually sends it and is younger can actually be charged with that. It still is considered child pornography," McCoy said.
McCoy said more often than not that picture gets forwarded on to the person's friends, and in a matter of seconds a picture meant for one person is potentially seen by hundreds.
"Technically speaking, according to the law anybody in possession of that photo is committing a crime, so those 25 buddies who are now in receipt of that photo could potentially face criminal charges," McCoy said about the flow of text messages containing nude photographs.
McCoy said from his experience with cases involving sexting resulting in possession of child pornography teens said they sext because of peer pressure or they trust the person receiving those pictures. It's a trust quickly broken when the picture is forwarded on to others.
McCoy said pictures that originate from sexting often land in the hands of people who prey on children.
"It's unbelievable," McCoy said about the kind of people who prey on children. "It's doctors, it's teachers, it's policemen, it's your neighbor. The guy you think is a squared-`away guy who's is potentially into this."
It's easier than ever for predators to get their hands on these pictures because of smart phones and access to social media.
Clinical Psychologist Dr. Shari Stembel said teens can be impulsive and don't always think before they send.
"It's very, very easy to put it out there immediately and impulsively and then think, 'Oh my goodness, what did I say, what did I do, or what did I get started?'" Stembel said about sexting.
The consequences of sexting can stick with a teen for the rest of their life because once that send button is pressed there's no turning back.
"We will never ever be able to retrieve that photo again," McCoy said. "It's out there forever, so technically the person who sends that is a victim and they're victimized repeatedly, repeatedly over and over. In the back of their minds it's always there that there's a picture of me naked when I was 12 years old that I sent to my boyfriend that is now out there for everybody to see and we'll never get it back."
McCoy said it may be hard to understand why your teen is sexting, but discussing the possible consequences of sending nude photographs is something every parent should do.
McCoy said it's important to let your children know you understand what exactly sexting is. He suggests talking openly with your child about whether or not they've ever been pressured to send nude photographs of themselves to anyone. He also says checking your child's phone on a regular basis is a good idea.
If you'd like to know more about sexting and how you can talk to your teen about the consequences you can find more information at the links below:
A Purdue football player was arrested for alcohol-related offenses over the weekend.
As temperatures drop, the use of homeless shelters go up.
The Attica Police Department is investigating after a 1-year-old Pit Bull is shot in her family's backyard.