Last week, a news story broke about a "sexting ring" that had been discovered in a local high school. At first count, 10 students were involved, but there are expected to be many more than that once the investigation gets underway. A parent, monitoring their teen's phone came across a nude picture of a girl from the high school, that had been sent to this boy. The parent called the school and at least 10 cell phones were confiscated to see who else had been privy to this photo. Luckily the police in the community are not looking to press charges, although they absolutely could. Disseminating pornography is a serious offense, but they realize that prosecution would affect these teens lives forever, and helping them to understand how and why this is unhealthy and unsafe will have a much greater effect in helping these kids to "see the light."
It was so interesting listening to the kids from this high school being interviewed on the local news. They said things like: "yeh, everybody does it, they just got caught," and "it's embarrassing for our town, but all kids are doing it, they just got caught here." Sexting is more mainstream than most parents think. With apps like snap chat, snap video, and now even newer apps like telegram, wickr and confide, teens have multiple platforms to feed their impulsivity and hunger for attention and excitement.
Most of these sites promote the idea that anything sent through these apps lasts only a few moments and is automatically deleted. Although in theory this is true, any self-respecting and tech savvy teen knows that if you act quickly enough you can take a screen shot of these sexy photos and save it for posterity, or at least until you send the pic to 100 of your closest friends.
Girls are often motivated to send these naked photos, because their crush asked them too, or because a boy flatters a girl eager for attention with a "come on, send me a picture, you're so hot, and with a promise of "no one else will see it I promise." So the girl closes her bedroom door, gets naked and sends a selfie. Sometimes girls are harassed into sending a boy a naked picture because of threats from the boy. "If you don't send me a naked picture, I'll tell everyone you're a slut." This doesn't leave a girl with too many options.
Watch this video for some tips I give on talking to your teen about sexting.