The Truth About Teens Sexting

A Town Hall Meeting

While Jessica's outcome is tragic, her situation isn't unique.

In Massachusetts, three junior high school students were arrested for allegedly distributing a sex video with their cell phones, and in New Jersey, a 14-year-old girl was charged with distribution and possession of child pornography after posting nude photos of herself on Myspace.com.

"Good Morning America" held a town hall meeting April 8 with students ranging from seventh grade to high school seniors to learn more about how sexting affects children. The group also had some parents, including Cynthia Logan and Aftab.

Aftab said children now deal with so many pieces of technology that parents often don't know all their uses.

Aftab had the parents do an Internet search of their children's names in quotation marks to see what was posted. She also had them search for the children's cell phone numbers online and suggested downloading Google desktop, a free program that helps find every video and picture on a computer.

After the parents' searches, they met up again with Aftab to discuss their findings.

"I found some inappropriate things," said town hall attendee David Zrike. "Unfortunately, some images, not of my children, thank goodness, but of other children ... One particular story that was disturbing -- at a party, an inappropriate picture was taken of a child who flashed herself, and it was passed around the school and it's been out there for awhile. So that was very surprising."

"I talked to two of my children -- 16-year-old and a 19-year-old," said Karen Stires, who also joined in the discussion. "They shared with me a very inappropriate picture that was taken on a cell phone with a 16-year-old girl, and she was very intimate with the boy. The picture was shared with all the kids in the private school."

Another parent, Craig Wellence, said he found things posted online about his kids "surprising."

Why Sext?

A 15-year-old girl named Ashley Garcia explained at the town hall meeting why she decided to send a nude photo of herself to her then boyfriend.

"He had kept asking me for [it]," the Humble, Texas, resident said of the incident last year. "First, I was kind of like, 'No.' Well then, the further along we got on in the relationship, you know, I thought I really cared about him, and I figured he cared about me, too."

Ashley, who was only 14 at the time, sent her boyfriend the nude image.

"I felt like there was love that I had never had," said Ashley. "It didn't really register in my mind, like, what I was doing. And it was just like common sense. I wasn't thinking about what I was doing before I sent it."

That image made the rounds, and eventually, a male friend of Ashley's sent the picture to her mother, Patricia Nordin.

"I had asked him, you know, 'Why did you do it?' And he just said, 'You shouldn't have ever broken up with me,'" Ashley said.

Nordin said in a telephone interview after the town hall that her daughter has endured some teasing -- mostly from girls -- but has handled herself well.

In fact, Ashley was moving on with her life when, on April 4, someone took the explicit image of her, used it to create a Myspace profile and invited all her friends to see it.

Nordin now is in the process of tracking down the culprit.

But Ashley said sexting is "a big thing" at her school and added she's heard that even eighth-graders are sending the provocative message.

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