Talking to Your Kids About Sexting

By: From Lori Getz, Mom Logic
By: From Lori Getz, Mom Logic

The results are astounding! A full 44% of teens said they have been involved in a sexting incident (either as the sender or the recipient of the image). However, less than a quarter of their parents knew about the situation prior to taking the momlogic challenge! The majority of teens surveyed believe that sexting is just part of being a teenager. One teen (in a separate interview) went so far as to call it a "rite of passage." Overall, teens do not see sexting as a big deal or as having long-term consequences.

Of those teens who admitted to sexting, only 38 percent reported knowing that sexting could lead to becoming a registered sex offenders, and only 1 in 5 teens believe that sexting is being sexually active!

"It's pretty far-fetched," said a 15-year-old boy who admitted to sexting. "Not every teen who sexts becomes a registered sex offender."

This is the attitude I see often when talking to teens. They've heard the stories but haven't seen the consequences firsthand. What they are missing is that even if the legal consequences seem far-fetched, there are other consequences that are more prevalent: emotional consequences, consequences of longevity and even sexual abuse.

Sexting is being sexually active! You are sharing your body with another individual. However, when you sext, you have no control over who ultimately you are sharing your body with. These images can be circulated and ultimately end up all over the 'net. "Although sexual abuse in the eyes of the law requires a physical interaction, as a therapist, I see things differently," said a therapist who specializes in treating rape victims and other sexually assaulted teens. "Children can be sexually abused by someone who manipulates them into performing sex acts on camera or sending sexually explicit photos to gratify the individual at the other end. They can also feel abused when a balance of power shifts and they are no longer control of their own sexual destiny. In cases where sexting is concerned, the victim gave up power when they sent the image and now the recipient of the image is exploiting that power. This can be devastating to the victims' self-esteem and ability to trust!"

Several studies, including a study by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, has cited a correlation between parents talking to their children about being sexually active and a teen's sexual behavior (even the delay of becoming sexually active). Over and over again, we see where communication between parents and teens is vital to the decision-making process for our young people. (Just because they are rolling their eyes doesn't mean they don't hear us.) So it's time to start talking about sexting, too!

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