Shamed by cyberspace: A WAFF 48 News special report

By Elizabeth Gentle - bio | email

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Many teenagers send private pictures that wind up on the internet without thinking about how a click of a button can haunt the rest of their lives.

A recent poll shows 22 percent of teen girls and 20 percent of teen boys have sent nude or semi-nude photos of themselves.

And that 38-percent of teenagers say exchanging sexy content makes dating or hooking up with others more likely to happen.

"I have received female pictures but I've also sent them. They were graphic," said one teen we will call Billy.

Billy is in high school and so is his friend Shane.

Because of their age, and repercussions the two fear they could face for talking, we shielded their identities.

The boys agreed to open up about an issue that is becoming all too familiar. A world where teenage boys and girls bare it all.

"It makes me happy. It's what I want," said Shane.

Teenagers snap naughty pictures of themselves and sending sexually explicit texts to friends or potential love interests.

It's a digital danger few young people think twice about.

"Kids do it these days. I mean some get away with it some get caught," said Billy.

"You are not really thinking about any like that cause your hormones are raging you want the picture right then and there," said Shane.

Billy and Shane say sexting is very common and the technology to send and receive dirty pictures is readily available.

But parents say its nothing short of child pornography.

"I found girls draped in bath towels, bra and panty pics, shirts pulled open exposed bra," said a father we will call Stan.

This dad says he discovered explicit images while checking his son's cell phone. He says he is a hands on father who has no problem invading his teenage boy's privacy.

Stan says he doesn't want him caught up in a choice he may one day regret.

"My child is older, but I still pay the phone bill. I check his phone and his computer regularly. I check histories on the internet. I have blocked his internet when I found stuff until we sat down and talked," said Stan.

Stan worries about the after-effects questionable pictures could have on a child's future, especially if it's exposed on the internet for everyone to see.

"It may keep you out of a job, security clearance. Be aware of what you are sending. Once you hit send you can't get it back. Its there forever," said Stan.

Billy and Shane say it's easy to become the victim of poor judgement. They've seen it happen to them and in their circle of friends.

"The reality check really set in for those girls who weren't expecting it either," said Billy.

Experts say parents shouldn't wait for an incident to happen to their child before talking to them about the consequences of sexting.

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