When a Chicago-area, underage teen girl “sexted” a nude selfie to her boyfriend through Snapchat, she received a response she did not expect: The boyfriend showed the nude selfie to other students and extorted her into sending more images. This situation illustrates what Chicago police and aldermen are referring to as a “new crisis.”
According to the Chicago Tribune, this phenomenon has become such a problem of late in the Chicago area that police and local politicians are even holding a parents-only meeting at a local school to discuss the perils of social media to underage teens.
“Sexting,” which is a term that’s only come into popular use in recent times, is behavior that involves the sending of explicit, sexual messages and pictures through mobile phones.
Interestingly, both minors – the girl and her boyfriend – are being investigated for possible violations of Illinois’ anti-sexting law and even the child pornography statute. It shows how so-called victims of sexting – those who didn’t intend their images to be widely distributed – may also be brought up on sexting charges if they live in a state where it’s illegal.
The reasons why minors engage in sexting are diverse, according to police detective Charlie Hollendoner, who was quoted in the Tribune. They range from not being able to withstand peer pressure to being influenced by widely known public figures who fail to set a good example by sexting themselves. Prominent public figures who have sexted include Democratic politician Anthony Weiner, golfer Tiger Woods, and retired quarterback Brett Favre.
Snapchat has previously been in the news for problems related to people, particularly teens, sexting on the app. Snapchat CEO, Evan Spiegel, even publicly denied that Snapchat sexting was a big problem with the app, telling TechCrunch that he personally didn’t know anyone who did that.
The app is currently one of the most popular apps on the planet. As of late last year, it was said to have more than approximately 100 million active monthly users.
In spite of the fact that Snapchat messages and images can self-destruct after a few seconds, sexting has proliferated on the app, perhaps because of the belief that images are temporary. However, people are able to “save” images by taking screenshots.