Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sexting - have you heard of it?

I read this commentary on Teen Checkup, and I thought, "thank goodness my child is still a baby." Really, God help me when it's time for me to make decisions such as whether or not my child will be allowed a cell phone. It's not boding well for him.
According to the commentator, young people, especially those in middle school, are engaging in a behavior called "sexting." Sexting occurs when kids (or anyone, for that matter) take naked pictures of themselves and then send the picture to others (who then forward the picture to an unimaginable number of people). Did your mouth just drop to the floor? Because mine did the first time I read this.
And I like to think that I am not naive. In fact, I have received naked pictures through spam or immature friends via text message. But never did it occur to me that young people would take pictures of their own body to be flashed across the digital world - for what, fun?
As if the natural consequences of this behavior are not enough, sexting is actually child pornography. Under federal law, child pornography is a criminal act, and is defined as a visual depiction of any kind, including a drawing, cartoon, sculpture, painting, photograph, film, video, or computer-generated image or picture, where it depicts a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct and is obscene. 
For instance, a 15-year-old Ohio girl is facing felony charges and may have to register as a sex offender after allegedly sending naked pictures of herself from her cell phone. What might have seemed like a funny game is actually a criminal offense.
The commentator concludes, "some people may argue that sexting is harmless and, perhaps, a form of safe sex. I would agree if 18-year-olds were doing it."
Excuse me, but even as an adult, I do not find sexting harmless. I find it disgusting, offensive, and troubling. And if any man text me a picture of himself in the buff, you better believe I would file a harassment charge.
If you have a teenager who has a cell phone, please talk with them. It is the parent's job to know what information and communication children are receiving from all media and digital outlets.
There are many benefits to allowing your child to have a cell phone (sorry, I don't discuss many of them here), but that doesn't mean your child should be allowed phone privileges carte blanche. 
Let me know your thoughts on sexting and how you intend on working with your teen to prevent them from ever being involved in such behaviors.


Rebecca said...

Thank goodness my kids are still little because I am so NOT ready to deal with teens... Yikes!!!

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