Sexting: Scary Trend with Lasting Consequences Part I

By Camaron Abundes   
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND- The connection is instant and might feel private, but racy photos can have lasting consequences.

"I feel for both parties. Not only do girls do it, but boys do it too, and later in life it can come back to haunt them." Detective Sheldon Johnson tells NewsWest 9, he investigated three so-called sexting cases last year. While that number is relatively low, before 2008 the phenomenon wasn't even on the department's radar.
"That picture they're taking for somebody else is permanent, it's never going away." Det. Johnson said.

Across the United States some teens are facing criminal charges for manufacturing or distributing child pornography. The Boston Herald reports an 18-year-old in Florida was forced to register as a sex offender after he forwarded a photo of his ex-girlfriend.

"However private you think some communication is, there is no way you can prevent that person from sending it on." Assistant U.S. Attorney John Klassen said the photos often circulate until they end up on the web.

In Midland last year, a teen sent her boyfriend a nude photo, the boy forwarded it when they broke up.

"She was extremely embarrassed and regretted taking this picture for her boyfriend. Her thoughts were nobody is else is going to see it, but him." Det. Johnson said, "They don't think it's going to go anywhere and when they break up whether it be for revenge or a practical joke, it goes to hundreds of kids."

The Midland boy didn't face any charges. Law Enforcement in Midland are not pursuing this type of case criminally, but the embarrassment can be just as devastating.

Last week, Police say an Ohio girl committed suicide connected to sexting.

"Everyone thinks I'll just forward it to somebody else, but that one forward becomes another forward, becomes three forwards, and then it's completely out of control," Klassen said.

Detective Johnson wants to see more parents talking to their teens about the risks.

"It's possible it could hit the Internet and it's possible it could go worldwide," Det. Johnson said.