It seems that whether the issue is drugs, alcohol, bullying, risky driving, media consumption, or sex, studies are showing that parents consistently underestimate their own kid’s interest or participation in these behaviors.  In one recent study, researchers found that parents severely underestimated their teen’s drug and alcohol use. And, in a 2010 study researchers found that many parents don’t believe their kids are interested in sex while holding to the notion that everyone else’s kids are.  And in 2009, 1000 teens and their parents were interviewed about their social networking habits (Facebook, Twitter, MySpace).

The “Not My Child” syndrome is in full force by 98% of all parents.  Imagine this; 10% of those teens interviewed had posted nude or semi-nude photos on a site. 25% of them admitted posting something that they later regretted.  Just a small 2% of the parents have supervised these kids on a regular basis. Most parents know of the dangers associated with these social platforms, but most felt, “Not My Kid”.

It seems that the digital world is where our kids are spending most of their lives. There was a time when we worried about what our teens were watching on TV – I don’t know many parents who actually pay attention to the movie rating before allowing their teen to go see a movie anymore.

As an Ohio Criminal Defense Attorney, I have seen it all in the last decade.  Cyber-bullying, binge drinking, sexually explicit content, drugs – all of it – is a part of the American teen’s life.  First it was talking – then email and now texting. The internet has made it so easy to be nameless, faceless, to be able to create alter egos.   It’s the new frontier of teen mental health dangers.

While bad behavior has been around forever, it’s worse now. You used to be able to cover your tracks, now,not so. We all have our very own digital tattoo that stays with us, probably forever. Nothing gets deleted, and teachers, colleges, law enforcement, employment agencies, hiring committees, neighbors and more are watching, monitoring, reviewing and building cases about what teens are saying.  As a criminal defense attorney in Ohio, I have seen many times where kids have become defendants in a criminal case as a result of cyber bullying, sexting and posting nude or explicit photos online.

While I do not know the answer on how to control this situation across the board, I do know that the “Not My Kid” syndrome has a big part in it.  Parents are uncomfortable talking about tough issues. Most parent don’t relish discussions with their teenagers on tough issues like dealing with peer pressure, sexuality, or drugs and alcohol. The hesitance to talk about these topics makes it easier for parents to rationalize that their kids aren’t ready or interested in these issues.

The Bottom Line: Kids will be kids. We, as parents, can’t be with them every second of every day. They make mistakes, sometimes very serious mistakes. They need to be held accountable, but they also need a chance to learn from their mistakes and then move forward with their lives as better people.   If your teen/child has been charged with Cyber Bullying, posting nude pictures of another under 18 years old, or posed as someone else online, you need to speak with a Criminal Defense Attorney immediately.  Depending on what took place, it could rise to the level of a misdemeanor charge or juvenile delinquency charge.  I will do everything I can to protect their rights and negotiate for reasonable  interventions that limit the potential harm to your child’s future.  Call me.  Put my number in your mobile, I can always be reached:  513-260-2099