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Northeast Metro Tech School Resource Officer Reminds Community of Massachusetts “Sexting” Laws

WAKEFIELD –This October, Northeast Metro Tech School Resource Officer Michael Pietrantonio, in partnership with Wakefield Public School Resource Officers Jason Skillings and Kelley Tobyne and the Wakefield Police Department, wishes to remind the community of Massachusetts General Law regarding “sexting.”

Posing a Child in a State of Nudity or Sexual Conduct

Mass. Gen. Laws ch 272-29A: Anyone who knowingly, with lascivious intent, hires, coerces, solicits, entices, uses, encourages or knowingly permits a person under 18 years of age- male or female- to pose or be shown in a state of nudity (or semi-nudity) for the purpose of representation or reproduction in any visual material. Using your cell phone to encourage a person, including a friend who is under 18 to photograph themselves nude or photograph body parts sexual in nature is illegal.

Dissemination of Pictures of a Child in a State of Nudity or Sexual Conduct

Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 272-29B: Anyone who, with lascivious intent, knowingly sends out or disseminates pictures of a person under 18 (1) in a state of nudity (or semi-nudity) or (2) engaged in a sexual act. This statute extends to a 16 year old boy or girl who photographs themselves and sends the picture through email or via cell phone violates the law.

Possession of Child Pornography

Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 272-29C: Anyone who knowingly has purchased or possessed pornography (in any format), which depicts a person under the age of 18 (or reasonably should have known) posed with a lewd exhibition of genitals, buttocks, and breasts or engaged in an actual or simulated sexual act. This includes photographs of another person’s exposed genitals on your cell phone or computer.

Note: Aside from getting jail time, conviction in criminal court for related “sexting” crimes may result in a person having to register with the Sex Offender Registration Board. Additionally, a conviction for a felony can lead to expulsion or suspension in school.

These types of crimes above can have great impact on your child’s future. We encourage all parents to take active roles in their child’s social media, computer and cell phone usage. It is a good idea to frequently review your child’s internet history, photos, text messages and any other applications that allow communication with others to ensure they are using them responsibly.

Examples of social media applications/platforms youths are using when engaging in sexting include Snapchat, KIK Messenger, Whatsapp Messenger, Tinder, Askfm and Omegle.

Snapchat is the most popular and widespread app used among teens. They take and send photos of themselves that disappear after a set amount of time. This app also allows for private messaging and group chats.

KIK Messenger allows anonymous, unlimited messaging from phones and iPods/iPads. You are able to send pictures, videos and inappropriate links.

Whatsapp is a text messaging app that also allows users to send photographs. The app uses an internet connection rather than a cellular network.

Tinder is a dating app where users can post images of themselves. Users are also able to browse through other profiles with pictures attached, then rate them.

Askfm is a social media site that allows users to ask and answer questions anonymously. A lot of the content can be sexual in nature, which leads to sexual harassment and many types of bullying.

Omegle is a modern day chat room where you are anonymous. These chat rooms are full of content relating to drugs, violence and sexually explicit discussions.

Social Media is ever changing in society and as a result, apps are being created that young people find and use to engage in sexting.

If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact your School Resource Officer.

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