Sex and Technology Prevention for Teens
“Sexting” is a current trend among an increasing number of teens. It involves texting sexual information (photos or words) to one another. Recent studies show almost 50% of all teens participate in “sexting,” risking social and legal repercussions.
The National Campaign published a recent study that compiled statistics from a 2008 research study of Sex and Tech behavior among teens. It reported that 20% of teenagers overall have sent or posted nude or seminude pictures or video of themselves. The study also showed 39% of all teenagers are sending or posting sexually suggestive messages to each other.
Teens are at risk legally and socially by sending illicit information over the Internet or by cell phones. Teens who get caught, can be prosecuted as sex offenders. If this happens, they may then be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of their lives.
Preventing these risky behaviors is an important concern for parents, teens and communities. Providing resources to teens to assist them in understanding and preventing “sexting” behavior can help protect their futures.
Two concepts that have been useful in helping to teach youth how to stay safe are the concepts of personal value and “no secrets.” These concepts were pioneered by Jan Hindman, an expert in the field of trauma recovery.
Teaching personal value is important in preventing abuse. Hindman says that children need to value their bodies like their material possessions, such as cell phones, in this case. They will be more likely to take care of their bodies and be more respectful toward themselves and others.
Teens seem to have an innate instinct to protect their cell phones and other electronic devices. Communicating this level of value and respect regarding their bodies can assist teens in making better choices about posting and texting. Teaching teens about personal value is an important beginning toward protecting them.
Increasing teens’ sense of personal value can also enable them to tell someone about abuse. Teens often tell when their cell phones or computers are taken or broken. Helping teens to develop a “no secrets” policy regarding Internet and text abuse is crucial.
Keeping secrets allows the offenders to keep on abusing. Teens can be taught that secrets can hurt and that breaking the silence can help in preventing more problems.
Parents need to be open to teens’ opinions by fostering a community of listening. Ask them how they might handle themselves in a situation involving “sexting.” This can help build strategies that they can implement on their own.
What Lasts Forever
Creating an atmosphere of openness and support is helpful in allowing youth to speak out when problems arise. Ask teens for input on how they are dealing with texting and online use. Educate them about the pitfalls of texting and posting online.
- Information lasts forever.
- Posting and texting can affect futures (jobs and reputations).
- Think before posting or texting.
Helping teens value themselves as they value their cell phones is a useful place to start. Communication about personal value and no secrets is a first step in prevention. Take time to have a discussion, read a book or share information provided by the health education program at school. Online resources such as The National Campaign are also available to parents to help with how to start discussions about these challenging topics.
Hindman, J. (1993) Abuses in Sexual Abuse Prevention Programs: Or Ways We Abuse Our Children As We Attempt to Prevent Abuse. Oregon: AlexAndria Associates .
Hindman, J. (1983) The Very Touching Book. Oregon: AlexAndria Associates.