Sexting goes mobile: a trend with consequences

By : Steve Blanchard
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With every advent of new technology there comes a new way to get your rocks off. Now that everyone and their mother seemingly has a camera on their cell phone, photos and text messages have evolved into the newest way to flirt, hook up, and even have intimate cyber-based relationships.

The simple act of snapping a semi-nude or nude photo of yourself and sending it off to that guy you eyed in the gym seems like harmless fun to many. But sexting without discretion can lead to some big trouble.

While specific studies on LGBT sexting aren’t available, there does seem to be a growing trend in sexting cases in the news involving gay men.

According to the Huffington Post, the headmaster of the Oregon Episcopal School recently resigned his position after it was discovered that he was sexting friends with his business account. Readers, beware: your place of employment can read those conversations you’re having with that hottie across town.

Headmaster Matthew Hanly, the article says, is a 51-year-old recently separated professional who hinted to some dinner party hosts that he’d like to dip into more than just the fondue.

He sent messages from his business e-mail to his friend’s cell phone, which then made their way into an email chain among students’ parents after Hanly’s email was hacked.

Hanly has apologized to students and teachers, but decided to resign anyway.

Despite examples like Hanly, sexting isn’t going to stop any time soon, according to Steven Petrow, an author of the popular Blog “Queeries.” In Petrow’s experience, more and more dinner parties have culminated in a group of people standing around a cell phone looking at a small LCD version of someone’s penis.

“In hushed tones, the cell phone owner pointed out the penis owner across the room who was completely unaware of the party favor he had supplied to the rest of us,” Petrow says.

Petrow says a recent study reported that 20 percent of teens have sent sexually explicit photos of themselves. What may seem harmless to many is actually illegal in Florida—if it involves children under the age of 18.

Pennsylvania and Florida are the only two states so far that have decided that any underaged person who sends nude or semi-nude photos of themselves can be charged with “creating, distributing and possessing child pornography.” Most of the high-profile sexting cases, Petrow says, involve heterosexual teens.

In April, an 18-year-old Florida man was convicted of sending child pornography after he sent a naked photo of his 16-year-old girlfriend to some family members and friends after an argument. He was sentenced to five years probation and required by Florida law to register as a sex offender.

“There are definitely some anomalies in the law,” Bell County First Assistant District Attorney Murff Bledsoe says in the Temple Daily Telegram. “You’re old enough under the law to be tried as an adult and consent at 17, but the law for childhood pornography deals with children 18 and under.”

So the message, according to Bledsoe, is to think twice or maybe three times before sending a nude photo via your cell phone. If that recipient isn’t as old as he or she says she is, you could be taking your first step toward a prison sentence.

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