As parents, our main concern is always our children and their protection. However, with the technology available to our children, especially teens and young teens, it's not always easy to look out for them, or monitor their activities. According to a recent article, children spend on average of 7 hours and 38 minutes a day using some sort of electronic device. Some of these activities that take place on cell phones and computers, like sexting, could bring consequences for teens that they aren't even fully aware of. Parents are also not fully aware of the consequences sexting can bring.
Sexting, which is sending explicit photos through text message, has the potential for bringing criminal charges to teens and even adults. Sexting not only happens through text messages, but it can also take place on other smart phone applications, like Kik, WhatsApp, Snapchat, and other chat like applications.
Many parents, and teens, don't understand is the child sexually abusive material (or child pornography) statute in Michigan. Under MCL 750.145c, a "child" is anyone under the age of 18. Under most statutes that deal with sexual activity and minors in Michigan the cut off age is 16, the age of consent. Depending on the age of the child, and the person they are sexting with, the child and/or the receiver of the explicit photos can be charged under the statute. If you have a 19-year-old son, and he is receiving explicit photos of his 16-year-old girlfriend, he can be charged for possessing child sexually abusive material. If the 19 year old then sends the sexts he received from his girlfriend to his friends, he could be charged for distributing child sexually abusive material. These situations even hold true when both of the parties involved are considered children under the statute. The punishment for these felony charges could be up to 7 years in prison.
The only way to prevent things like this from happening is to talk and be open with your teen about the consequences that sexting can bring. A new smart phone app can also help parents monitor their child's activities discreetly and prevent situations like the one above from happening. TeenSafe, a child safety website, created an app that allows parents to view text messages, deleted text messages, and monitor applications like WhatsApp and Kik, all without your teen knowing. It also allows you to monitor incoming calls and know your child's location.
With the rise of technology, it is becoming easier for teenagers to violate the child sexually abusive material laws, without even being aware they are doing so. When it comes to charges under these statutes, an attorney familiar with defending those accused of sex crimes is the best attorney to call. The Law Offices of Shannon M. Smith has the experience your child needs when it comes to these charges. Our office has been featured in many news articles and stories related to sexting. If your child or a loved one's child is being questioned by the police about sexting, or facing charges of child sexually abusive material, call our office to set up a consultation.