Sexting: Who’s To Blame?

sextingI cannot say enough good things about the work of Amanda Kloer. So, I will just provide for you another great article by my friend and fellow warrior in the fight against Human Tafficking.

By Amanda Kloer

Sexting = sex + texting.  It’s teens taking naked or sexual pictures of themselves with camera phones and texting them to friends and significant others.  It’s a growing trend in many communities of teens, and everyone wants something to blame.

To be clear, sexting isn’t teens sending bikini snaphots to friends.  According to a recent Good Morning America article,

We’re seeing 14, 15 and 16-year-olds and up are very commonly sharing naked pictures or sexual pictures of themselves,” said Internet safety expert Parry Aftab, of Wired Safety. “We’re talking about kids who are too young to wear bras who are posing in them, and then topless and then actually engaged in sex or even in masturbation. So we are seeing a lot of kids who are sexually active.”

The article goes on tor recount the stories of teens whose nude photos were sent around school, ruining their lives and reputations, and driving at least one young girl to suicide. 

As with any serious issue that arises around children (school shootings, bullying, etc.), everyone is looking for someone to blame.  Here are the suspects I’ve seen fingered so far:

It’s the technology that causes sexting: Yes, the widespread availability of camera phones and pic messaging among teens has provided the medium for them to sext it up, but it hasn’t provided the motivation. I came of age in the beeper/pager era, where the dirtiest you could get was paging someone the number 60065 (which looks a little like the word ‘boobs’).  But NONE of my peers were interested in taking or distributing nude photos of themselves.  We had cameras, the Internet, and photo scanners, so it would have been possible, but teens just weren’t motivated.

It’s lax parents:  Cell phones can actually do both families and teens a great service- providing emergency contact, coordinating schedules, etc.  The motto of youth has always been to get away with as much as possible when mom and dad’s backs are turned, so parents should know what teens do with their phones (and their computers, and iPods, and cars…).  But a 15-year-old shouldn’t need round the clock policing not to produce her own pornography.

It’s the teens fault: If sexting is child pornography, do we prosecute these kids for being their own pornographers?  In Ohio, a 17-year-old girl is being prosecuted for distribution of child pornography for sending naked pictures of herself to her boyfriend.  If convicted, she’ll be a registered sex offender who offended against herself. 

The laws are too strict: Vermont is answering the issue of sexting by attempting to make it legal for children 13 and up, which they hope will avoid having to register the children caught sexting as sex offenders.  To me, this is a little like killing a fly with an AK-47.  In doing this, Vermont would actually legalize one form child porn, which will take us down a dark and dirty road to coerced or forced sexting of child porn.

Blame the media: Blame the media is one of the oldest tricks, and I don’t think many people could argue that teens today are bombarded with more sexualized images than ever before and are under more cultural pressure to be sexy and sexual at a younger age.  However, the fact is that ALL teens experience this and only SOME sext.  The key is discovering what makes the difference.

My take on this blame game is that it’s never so simple.  Yes, parent’s need to be more watchful, teens need to take more personal responsibility, and companies and governments need to help protect children and empower them to make good decisions and live healthy lives.  Can we do this by branding kids as sex offenders and pedophiles?  No.  And we can’t do it by making child pornography legal for ANYONE to produce, even kids.  What we need is to set aside our panic, moral outrage, and political agendas, and ask ourselves: what can we do to help these teens? 

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2 responses to “Sexting: Who’s To Blame?

  1. Hi, good post. I have been thinking about this issue,so thanks for sharing. I will definitely be coming back to your site.

  2. Pingback: Incidents of Sexting Raise Troubling Questions | GlobalShift

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