Sunday, February 13, 2011

To Sext Or Not To Sext?

Does your teen have a cell phone? According to, seventy-three percent of teens do. So how up to date are you about their texting habits? Did you know that teens who text send an average of 118 texts per day? Are any of the texts your teens are sending sexts? Sexting is the act of sending sexually explicit pictures or messages by the use of cell phone.

Sexting is a growing habit amongst teens. Check out the following statistics:
20% of teens sext
22% of teen girls sext
18% of teen boys sext
11% of teen girls between the ages of 13-16 sext
23% of teens think sexting is okay
48% of teens think that adults over-react to sexting
86% of teens who sext are not caught.

The problem with sexting is that there is NO way to control it once it occurs. Once the images or texts are out there, the person receiving them has the power/control to do whatever they wants with those images/statements. There was a case in Cincinnati in July of 2008, where a teen girl sent her boyfriend a nude photograph, and it was circulated around her high school. She ended up committing suicide after the ensuing embarrassment and harassment from fellow classmates. In addition to the control factor, in some states teens caught with sexting pictures on their phones can be charged with possession of child pornography or felony obscenity.

So as parents what do we need to know? First off here are some key texts that parents should be aware of:
PAW - parents are watching
PIR - parents in room
POS - parent over shoulder
PAL - parents are listening
P911 - parent alert
CD9 - parents around
Code9 - parents around
These are just some of the abbreviations that teens are using to alert the people on the other end about parents are around. If you google "sexting abbreviations" you can find out what some of the other abbreviations mean (not listed here due to graphic content).

It is important to educate your teens about the consequences of sexting. Let them know that in some states they could face criminal charges, including possession of child pornography/distribution of child pornography, and the possibility of having to register as a sex offender. Make sure that they know that once they send those images out, there is no way to control where they go, or who sees them. The number one thing that you can do to help your teens is to talk with them. Have open dialogues with them and don't be afraid to have difficult discussions with them. It is better to have open discussions with them before something happen versus trying to make things better after the fact.

If you would like more information about sexting and what you can do check out

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