With the rise of social media, children as young as grade school age are often seen with a Facebook, a cell phone, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. They often have free reign to text or communicate with whoever they want. When hormones are raging, these teens and children find ways to release those emotions and seek attention. One way that they do this is to take pictures of their genitals and other private parts, send them to each other, and post them on social media. Not only can this be damaging in emotional or psychological ways, but these young adults could be charged with possessing child pornography.

Possessing child pornography, otherwise known as “Possession of depictions of minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct” is a class B felony. One of the definitions of “sexually explicit conduct” is defined as: the “depiction of the genitals or unclothed pubic or rectal areas of any minor, or the unclothed breast of a female minor, for the purpose of sexual stimulation of the viewer.” The punishments for this crime could vary, but the maximum sentence that someone convicted of this crime could face is up to ten years in jail and $20,000.

Although these laws were originally written to protect children from adults who were in possession of child pornography, it is also a crime in Washington if the person in possession of the child pornography is also a child.

Oftentimes, these children have innocent intentions – they are just sending pictures of themselves to their boyfriends or girlfriends. The problem is, if these pictures or conversations fall into the wrong hands, the last thing you want as a parent is to help your child through the criminal justice system.

As a parent, you want your child or teen to be able to socialize with their friends and to not deprive them of social media. You want them to trust you, and you don’t want them to feel like you are snooping around their business or invading their privacy. However, you do want to stay involved in a way to make sure that they are safe from these crimes. What you can do as a parent to protect your children? Remind your children to think twice about what they send, teach your children to not share anything with strangers or to not share anything that they wouldn’t want their grandma or future boss to see, and to set privacy settings on their accounts.

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