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Let’s Talk About Sexting, Baby. July 4, 2011

Posted by Syd in Uncategorized.
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I am probably showing my age by throwing a Salt-n-Pepa up there, but I can’t resist sometimes.  However, I am definitely showing my age when I say that sexting didn’t even exist when I was a kid.  We didn’t even have cell phones, for one thing.  Or the internet. While there are some universal issues teens will always deal with, no matter what generation, the advent of mobile technology and the internet certainly has added to the issues that teens have to deal with today.

So, “sexting”.  It’s defined as sending or receiving messages with sexual words or images.  In a survey conducted by the TV network and the Associated Press in 2009, it was found  that “29 percent (of young people 14 to 24) report receiving messages ‘with sexual words or images’ by text or on the Internet.” And “61 percent of those who have sent a naked photo or video of themselves have been pressured by someone else to do so at least once.”

So, let’s discuss some of the repercussions facing teens who are involved in sexting.  If a girl or guy is asked by their partner to send them a naked picture, they may feel pressured by the relationship to send the picture.  But, as we all know, once it’s out there, it’s out there.  Should the other person accidentally or deliberately send it on, what was intended to be private is now very public.    Which leads to the humiliation factor.  Very few teens, if any, would like their entire graduating class to know what they look like naked.  As we’ve talked about before, high school is hard enough to deal with without any additional drama and distress.  Finally, it’s illegal.  It is a federal crime to take, send, or have naked images of a minor.  It could land them on the sex offender registry.

So what can be done to prevent this from happening?

  • Teens need to be continually educated about healthy relationships.  Naked pictures are not required to prove love for another person.  They need to know it’s okay to say “No” to something they are not comfortable with.
  • Parents should keep an eye out for behaviors that might indicate their child might be involved in a sexting situation.  If they are the victim of leaked photos, their behavior may change drastically.  They may become sullen and withdrawn, eating habits and hygiene habits may change abruptly.  If this turns out to be the case, contact the proper authorities.
  • Encourage teens to be part of the solution, not the problem.  If they are forwarded a naked picture of a classmate (or a stranger), delete, delete, delete.  50% of teens who have received a sext have forwarded it on.  That number is far too high.
For further information, please click on over to MTV’s A Thin Line.  It is a campaign against sexting, cyberbullying, and digital dating abuse.
Let’s open it up in the comments, too.  Parents, do you have any stories from your local schools as to how they are handling these issues?  We’d love to hear more from all of you.
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