Police warn parents about criminal consequences of kids "sexting - KATV - Breaking News, Weather and Razorback Sports

Police warn parents about criminal consequences of kids "sexting"

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JACKSONVILLE (KATV) - Hormones run rampant in teens – it’s why the concept of sending lewd photos to one another seems so natural to them.  But do they know that doing that can land them in some hot water?

Three teens in Jacksonville were arrested Tuesday on charges of distributing and possessing matter depicting sexually explicit conduct involving a child.  It’s all the result of “sexting” – and sexting amongst underage teens is a felony in the state of Arkansas.

“That’s shocking, really,” said Amber Barber, mother of four.  “I mean it makes sense though.”

“I would imagine an older person, sexting, texting a younger person under 18 would definitely be a felony,” said Joseph Tradewell, father of two teenagers.

Tradewell is right – it is illegal for an adult to sext with a minor, but according to Arkansas statutes regarding, “Computer Crimes Against Minors” – the law also applies to kids.

“Parents need to understand of this being against the law,” said Sgt. Richard Betterton, Jacksonville Police.

But with image sharing apps like Instagram, Snapchat and even Kik Messenger, can parents actually keep track of their kids’ every move?

“I’m sure the younger one is doing more than I care to know,” commented Tradewell.

Teens can be charged not just for sending, but for possessing explicit images of their underage friends.  Lucky for kids, the Class C felony they commit by sexting underage will only land them in juvenile court and not land them the suggested one to six years of jail time.

“They could get probation or they could go to juvenile detention,” said Betterton.

And at a judge’s discretion the guilty party could be forced to register as a sex offender.

“Of course there’s criminal charges involved,” commented Betterton.  “But the emotional drawbacks these to these children that this happens to; there’s a lot of emotional problems that could occur once a kid’s pictures are sent out.”

The teens arrested on Tuesday in Jacksonville were two females ages 13 and 14, and 14 year-old male.  All three were released into their parents’ custody Tuesday morning.