Teens Sexting, Sharing Nude Photos a Sign of the Times That Could Lead to Criminal Charges

I was recently interviewed by KGW News, a Portland, Oregon NBC affiliate on the uptick in teen sexting and nude photo sharing. It’s a problem that is prevalent with seemingly little thought on the part of those participating in these behaviors as to the consequences of their behavior.

As a sexual abuse survivor advocate and an attorney who has handled many cases involving sexual abuse and sexual exploitation, I am keenly aware of the dangers posed by this alarming new trend.  The repercussions can be far reaching.  There are obvious criminal issues involved but the harm done to one’s reputation, privacy, and sense of self can cause long-term damage to teenagers taking part in sexting and sharing nude photos. The person who posts these photos has no idea or control over where these photos will end up. They may very well end up on pornographic websites and make the sender vulnerable to online sexual predators.

A Drexel University study conducted in 2014 estimated that more than 25% of teenagers are involved in this activity or know someone who has done it.

In Oregon, it is illegal to take, possess or share photos depicting sexually explicit conduct involving any child under the age of 18.  Any person doing so could be charged with child pornography. Additionally, anyone who shares a nude photo of the sexual body parts of anyone under 18 can be criminally prosecuted for harassment and invasion of privacy.  These laws apply to minors and adults alike.

KGW reported that in May, three Oregon teenagers were charged in connection with thousands of nude photos and videos of female North Eugene High School students.

Naked images of 15 to 20 female students were exchanged “via email, Dropbox, Snapchat, KIK and Facebook Messenger,” explained Eugene Police detective Chris Mackey in a probable cause affidavit.

Social media and technological advances are beneficial for all of us. However, they are susceptible to being used for criminal activity and the sexual exploitation of our children. Law enforcement is becoming more aware of the problem and stepping up its efforts to curb it.  Parents also have a responsibility to talk with their children about these dangers and proper relationship boundaries, including the consequences of sending nude photos or sexting.  Too often, teens think it’s no big deal but it can ruin their young lives.

In addition to criminal cases, civil remedies including damages for counseling costs, emotional harm, and damage to one’s reputation, are available.  If you have been a victim of this type of behavior and have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.


Dumas and Vaughn Attorneys at Law has law offices in Portland, Oregon and serves clients in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and other states.

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