Now Matters Later: Dangers of Sexting, Cyberbullying

Renee Passal
Updated: March 25, 2019 07:02 PM

Plenty of teens are sexting these days. But this can get people in a lot of trouble.

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Prosecutor Leah Stauber, who handles juvenile cases on the Iron Range, has seen a rise in the problems of sexting and cyberbullying. So she came up with a presentation with the theme, 'Now Matters Later,' to give kids a better sense of what could happen. She's visited six schools this school year.

Some of her information, like how naked pictures of your girlfriend or boyfriend can be considered child pornography, was surprising to some. Kylie Meyer, a freshman, said, "I'm sure a lot of people didn't know that could be a felony," she told us. "It's not common knowledge."

Kaitlynn James, another freshman, added, "Everyone has a phone, it's good to know this stuff."

Stauber said a school official can look at your phone if he or she thinks you're committing a crime. The same applies to your locker. However, the search standards are different when it comes to law enforcement.

Evan Mattson, a junior, liked hearing her perspective, since Stauber is an attorney. "I think it's good to be aware. A picture now can prevent you from getting a job."

There are consequences, criminally, at home, and even college-loan related.

Tips to help, she said, are: 1) Think before you send 2) Know that nothing is anonymous 3) Never assume things are private 4) Don't give into pressure to do something you're not comfortable with.

As for if you see photos, or get sent them, it's important to report them to law enforcement. 

And when it comes to cyberbullying, sending a mean mesage could be a crime, Stauber reinforced.

Principal Bill Wietman said they felt this program was a valuable tool to help reinforce conversations they've already had at the school. "Maybe it's information they didn't know. Or something that wasn't sinking in. Kids don't always make the right choices, and we're trying to help steer them in the right direction."

The Sexual Assault Program of Northern St. Louis County has a 24/7 helpline you can text or call: 218-780-7227


Renee Passal

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