By Ashley Louszko
The “media” of teen romance used to be notes on binder paper passed in class, displays of “[initials] + [initials]” inside a heart, whispering “Who do you like?” on sleepovers, and phone calls after bedtime.
Now it’s often “sexting,” sexually explicit text messages often accompanied by semi-nude or nude pictures. These intimate, one-to-one messages can get passed on to others and posted online, where they can live forever and do serious harm. In 2008, an Ohio teen, Jessica Logan, committed suicide after being relentlessly bullied when a nude picture of her was sent into cyberspace.
Since then, dozens of teenagers across the country have been arrested for sexting nude photos. Some were charged with manufacturing, disseminating or possessing child pornography. In some states, these sexting minors can be required to register as sex offenders.
“What Would You Do?” decided to test how bystanders would react to two male teens pressuring their friend to share nude pictures his ex-girlfriend sexted him when they were together.
We set up our hidden cameras at Sip This, a café in Valley Stream, N.Y. Our actors John and Hunter went to work on Brandon, also an actor, to persuade him to take revenge on his ex by sharing the images.
When Brandon hesitated, a woman diner named Maria immediately spoke up. “You can get in a lot of trouble for this,” she said, then encouraged him to take a few days to calm down. John and Hunter kept up the pressure, but Maria didn’t back down: “He’s got a backbone! He doesn’t need you!” she told them. After his friends left in a huff, Maria even offered Brandon a ride home.
Vote below to tell us how you’d react and watch the full scenario on “What Would You Do?” Friday at 9 p.m. ET.