When Teen Texting Mistakes Cross the Legal Line

February 17, 2012

Teenagers, Texting & Driving mistakes can cause legal problems.

Girl Texting on PhoneMy job as a security expert requires me to assist others in protecting their physical and intellectual assets, which is why I am so passionate about educating parents and teens regarding the real safety issues that can be associated with inappropriate texting behaviors. While parents certainly have the best intentions when they give teens a cell phone, they may also be setting themselves up for future legal issues. Most teens lack the maturity and experience to know how to use their newfound technology freedom and without proper parent monitoring (and at times intervention), teens may find themselves (and their parents!) in legal hot water. Read more to find out what happens when Teens Texting mistakes cross the Legal Line.

Just what kind of legal issues could you encounter?

  • The majority of states (including the District of Columbia and Guam) have a primary law prohibiting the use of cell phones while driving. This means an officer can ticket the driver for the offense without any other traffic offense taking place.
  • In many jurisdictions, there are parental liability laws that allow someone who is intentionally injured by a minor to hold the parents of that minor responsible—this may include acts of cyberbullying.
  • If a parent knows that his/her minor is engaged in inappropriate texting behaviors such as sexting or cyberbullying and does nothing to prevent it, the parent is at risk of being charged for contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
  • Extremely harmful online speech can violate criminal laws—this includes sending obscene or harassing text messages, creating or sending sexually explicit images of teens and taking a photo of someone in a private place such as a locker room.

Don’t wait for an incident to happen to you or your child before you talk to your teen about the consequences of sexting, cyberbullying or driving while texting. It is your responsibility as a
parent to keep the lines of communication open and to monitor your teen’s texting behavior. For more information on the legal ramifications of inappropriate texting behaviors, checkout my new ebook, Safe Text: Protecting Your Teens from the Dangers of Texting.

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