Personal and Legal Repercussions of Teen Sexting

Sexting is a relatively new form of communication, so the legal system hasn’t quite caught up yet, though the Florida legislature has addressed the trend. However, when teens are involved, sexting still can have serious repercussions, both legal and emotional.

The Rise of Sexting

Sexting is the act of sending sexually explicit messages via text message. This includes photographs and video links ( Unfortunately, many teens get wrapped up in this behavior, and it’s become commonplace for some teens to sext each other as a part of dating or an act of flirting.

There are factors that can lead teens to sexting, such as: 

  • peer pressure;
  • teens’ natural tendency for exploration and experimentation;
  • feeling as if they’re in love; and
  • a craving for attention.

Emotional Ramifications of Sexting

Sexting is a slippery slope. Teens often feel invincible and don’t think that the images they send can hurt them. However, once the image is out there, it’s impossible to foresee what will happen with it.  It could be shared across the Internet, on social media or forwarded to others in their social circles.

If shared, it could create an enormous amount of humiliation, shame and embarrassment. It can lead to bullying and a damaged social reputation. Furthermore, it could come back to haunt the teen later in life if potential employers or partners see the images.

Sexting Can Have Serious Legal Consequences

The legal concerns with sexting are that if teens are involved, the act could fall under child pornography. However, Florida has passed a law that punishes teens who engage in the act with a non-criminal violation calling for eight hours of community service or a $60 fine for a first offense. Penalties get steeper for a second offense (first-degree misdemeanor) and third offense (third-degree felony).

For legal questions regarding sexting and criminal punishment, consult a criminal defense lawyer.