How dangerous is ‘sexting?’ [KESQ News Channel 3 & CBS Local 2 Reporter, by Natalie Brunell, 09/09/2014]

“Inappropriate text messages that are being sent to students by a student,” said Deputy Armando Munoz, public information officer for the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.

Last week authorities confiscated the phones of several students, including members of the Varsity football team.

Students told us the phones haven’t been returned yet, and that the photo in question was of a nude student, a girl under the age of 18.

“this was brought to our attention because it was sent, I believe, to several students,” Munoz said.

In California, it’s illegal to possess a sexually explicit image of a minor, meaning you don’t have to distribute the photo to be charged with a serious crime.

“It can range from misdemeanor to felony, possibly child pornography and having to register as a possible sex offender,” Munoz said.

So why do more and more young people ‘sext’? Some think their photos are safe if they use an app that sends pictures that self-destruct, which students tell us was involved in this case.

A photo or video may only live a few seconds on apps like Snapchat, but if someone screen grabs it, it can live forever on their device or on the internet.

“Look what’s going on with the famous people and hacking and think about the humility you can suffer,” Munoz said, referring to the recent celebrity hack of iCloud that resulted in the leak of hundreds of scandalous photos.

Sheriff’s deputies advise parents to download phone-monitoring apps on their children’s phones and check their activity often.

One app, called SentTell, will notify parents whenever photos are taken or sent using their children’s camera phone. There’s also a software called mSpy, which at $40 a month allows parents to see what their children are sending on Snapchat.

The best advice for teens: think twice before you take a compromising photo.

“Whether it be school or a job, it can affect your future long-term,” Munoz said.