In late July of last year following the embarrassing Anthony Wiener sexting scandal I published a post entitled “Texting, Sexting and Who Knows What!” It has proven to be one of my most popular posts. http://sausedo.net/2011/07/26/texting-sexting-who-know-what/ I intended it as a warning to parents to be leery of what their teens are doing with their cell phones because they’re doing a hell of a lot more than simply texting and making calls, many of them are sexting! Sexting is defined as the transmission of racy text messages photos, or images using cell phones.
Results of a study published in the journal “Pediatrics” December issue says otherwise. According to the study only 10% of children between the ages of 10 -17 have ever sent or received sexually suggestive comments or images over their cell phones. Reports of the study seemed to blast holes in the media extensive teen sexting coverage, calling the whole media blitz an over-exaggerated “scare tactic” and just a bunch of hype!
Now I’m usually one of the first people to jump all over the media, particularly the pretty talking heads on TV news, who hype the hell out of stories that aren’t even news worthy simply to grab some attention, but then remember who we’re dealing with, these are the same cold, compassionless idiots who thrust a microphone in the faces of everyday people like you or I who have just lost a loved one in some tragic accident or an act of violence and calmly ask, “How do you feel?” Yeah I’d like to tell them how I feel alright! Yet this time I find myself on their side of the line.
I’m sorry, but the so called ‘study’ that downplays the seriousness of the sexting problem among teens is flawed. It is not a study at all, it’s a freakin’ survey! A mere 1560 kids took part in it! Only 10% admitted to sexting. So this tiny, nationwide sampling is what’s supposed to prove that sexting is not a serious problem among teens? You’ve got to be kidding? In the first place how the hell can they get away with calling this a study? Please! According to the last census there are between 25 and 28 million teenagers in the U.S. You cannot base a conclusion on the results of a 1560 person survey! That’s ridiculous! And even if you could, 10% of 28million is a problem, a very newsworthy problem!
Sexting is a growing phenomena among teens. I know parents hate to think that their little darlings are sexting but they probably are, and if they aren’t, they know other teens who are. You see, teens just don’t understand what they’re getting into, to them sexting is fun, they don’t see the downside. They don’t understand how serious sexting can be until it’s too late. When those private images go public all hell breaks loose! The results can range from simple embarrassment, emotional stress, criminal prosecution or sometimes even death.
In the past year and a half at least two deaths have been linked to sexting. Two teenage girls — one in Florida and one in Ohio — committed suicide after being severely humiliated and ridiculed by peers when their ex boyfriends shared with their friends, sexually explicit pics of the girls that they had received while dating. Suicide is already one of the leading causes of death among teens, now sexting has been added to the list of reasons why.
Teens need to be educated about the sometimes devastating consequences of sexting. They need to understand not only the consequences of their actions but the fine line that defines what is acceptable behavior and what isn’t. It is the responsibility of parents and teachers everywhere to help prevent teens from making costly mistakes. Getting caught up in the sexting game can be extremely costly, it can cost them not only their dignity and reputation, but in some extreme cases their lives as well. Once the send button is pushed there’s no turning back…