Take a moment to sit and read Why Kids Sext. When smart phones first appeared on our campus around 2006, we confronted some instances of students sending inappropriate images around town...to OUR students, and many of us adults who work here knew immediately that this misuse of the new technology would crash into the already confusing existence of awkward adolescents and their ubiquitous temptations. To what end?
Now, some eight years later, we're finding out that the immediate access on one's person to digital web-based content is like nothing we have seen before with regard to fundamental human social interaction. The strong majority of our students carry smart phones, again, with immediate access to the Internet. It's an unparalleled sociological, cultural seismic shift like the world has not experienced, especially in education of young people, since, what, the printing press?
While our culture speaks openly and often about challenges to teen development, like the misuse of drugs, lack of sleep, an excess of screen time, bullying, frankly, adolescent sexuality remains relatively taboo for popular discussion.
This article is not as much about adolescent sexuality as it is about the illusive new sociology of technology and legal categories of protecting minors. Within adolescent social circles, we can begin to address the issue from an internal, self-monitored framework of personal health, wellness, good choices. From without, from minors who are subject to federal and state law, who, in addition, happen to be contracted with private and independent schools, to parents who sign phone contracts for their legal minors, we can present practical expectations for behavior in community.
We provide the above link and below selections from the article for your investigation into a complex and unique entrant into our kids' lives:
Because so often in sexting cases that go public, we adults inadvertently step into the role of Freddy Krueger, making teenage nightmares come true: We focus on all the wrong things; we overreact. Sometimes we create an even bigger disaster.
When I asked the kids from Louisa County High School, which has about 1,450 students, how many people they knew who had sexted, a lot of them answered “everyone.” (Throughout this article, I will use sexting to mean the transmission of provocative selfies you wouldn’t want your mother to see—not words, but pictures.) A few of the 30 or so kids I talked with said 80 percent or 60 percent, and no one said fewer than half. Kids, however, are known to exaggerate. Surveys on sexting have found pretty consistently that among kids in their upper teens, about a third have sexted, making the practice neither “universal” nor “vanishingly rare,” as Elizabeth Englander, a psychology professor at Bridgewater State University, writes, but common enough in a teenager’s life to be familiar. A recent study of seven public high schools in East Texas, for example, found that 28 percent of sophomores and juniors had sent a naked picture of themselves by text or e-mail, and 31 percent had asked someone to send one.
Five years after the sexting scandal in Pennsylvania, cases still arise that betray shockingly little clarity about who should count as the perpetrator and who the victim.
Studies on high-school kids’ general attitudes about sexting turn up what you’d expect—that is, the practice inspires a maddening, ancient, crude double standard.
In the Texas high-school study, boys and girls were equally likely to have sent a sext, but girls were much more likely to have been asked to—68 percent had been. Plenty of girls just laugh off the requests.
When surveyed, by far the most common reason kids give for sexting is that their boyfriend or girlfriend wanted the picture, and my interviews in Louisa County support that. In a study of 18-year-olds by Elizabeth Englander, 77 percent said the picture they sent caused no problems for them. The most common outcome of a sext, says Englander, is “nothing”: no loss, no gain. Most girls (70 percent) reported feeling some pressure to sext, but Englander singles out a distinct minority (12 percent) she calls the “pressured sexters,” who say they sexted only because they felt pressure. These girls are more vulnerable. They tend to start sexting at a younger age, and to sext because they think they can get a boyfriend, as opposed to because they already have one. They have a fantasy that “if they sext, the popular people will see them as daring and self-confident, and they could get a boyfriend they wouldn’t otherwise have gotten,” Englander says. But generally that doesn’t work out. Pressured sexters are much more apt to feel worse after sexting than other teens are—her interviews reveal them to be less self-confident about their bodies and less assured about their place in the social hierarchy after sending a sext.
Many legal-reform advocates say the key is to distinguish between voluntarily sharing a photo and having it shared without your consent. “We should draw the line between my daughter stupidly sending a photo of herself to her boyfriend and her boyfriend sending it to all his friends to humiliate her,” Levick, of the Juvenile Law Center, told Slate last year. “The first is stupid. The second is more troubling and should be criminal.” Levick’s group has been trying for years to get states to recognize the difference between sexting that’s part of normal sexual exploration and sexting that’s coercive or violates privacy.