When I was 16 and a sophomore in high school, I was a straight A, fully involved, popular, church-going girl. After two years on and off, my boyfriend and I ended things. Being a naive 16-year-old and thinking that we were in love, I was crushed. About one month later, my ex-boyfriend told me he would get back together with me if I sent him a naked picture. Impulsively and without thinking, I sent him one. He never answered that picture message. Overnight he had forwarded the picture to everyone in his contact list.
Immediately the taunting began with people calling me “’ho, whore and slut.” People posted the picture online, and I received death threats. My house was vandalized. I had paint cans put in my pool and a tire rolled into my front glass door. It wasn’t just kids making my life a living hell. I had teachers who said I couldn’t use the hall pass “unless I promised not to take anymore pictures.” The school principal told me he couldn’t help with the bullying but to come back to him “if it got physical.”
I have begun going to schools to speak about bullying and sexting. I have met with many young girls in the U.S. and Canada who have dealt with sexting. I have worked with Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt on trying to change the NJ Sexting Laws. Before this year, (and still the case in many states) anyone under the age of 18 caught sexting can be charged with distribution of child pornography and has to register as a sex offender until they are 45.
Luckily, Pamela Lampitt saw my story and decided that we needed new laws. Last year, a new sexting law was signed into effect by Governor Christie that mandated that first-time offenders get therapy rather than register. Because of my work with Pamela Lampitt, I was honored at the State House in 2012 as a “Rising Young Woman of Change” for my bullying and sexting work. I have also been on MTV: Sexting in America, MTV’s Disconnected: The After Show, MTV International Bullied Documentary, The View, Good Morning America, CNN.com, Dr. Drew, The NJ Herald, and Life & Style magazine. I was also accepted onto MTV’s A Thin Line campaign’s Street Team. Kids need to know that it does get better.