There's an article in the Washington Post today that talks about the impacts of sexting on a 7th Grade girls. Let that sink in.
Not High School. Not College. 7th Grade.
Kids who are barely into puberty, are sharing nude or semi-nude photos. Believing that this can bring them acceptance and love. And before you say, never my kid, understand that the pressure of all of this on kids, especially girls, is enormous.
Pressure to belong. To fit in. To be loved. To be accepted. To have a place. To have friends. All of the things we used to want, they want too. But now cell phones add a completely new dimension to the battle. The instantaneous ability to change your life forever.
Law enforcement agencies could have told her parents how truly ordinary their situation was. Sexting has gained a presence in every kind of school — rich and poor, urban and rural, big and small. As phones make their way into the hands of younger and younger kids, the incidents have grown more complex: Students collect their peers’ nude photos in passcode-protected Dropboxes, private Instagram accounts and apps disguised as calculators. In Massachusetts alone, the state police computer crimes unit gets multiple calls a month from schools needing its intervention. - Washington Post
And this isn't getting better. The impact of this on dating and relationships is overwhelming. Hook-up culture is infiltrating middle and high schools. Online only relationships are becoming normal; instances where kids never connect face to face with the person they are "in a relationship" with.
Texting, sexting, semi-nude and nude pictures - all are becoming normal behavior between boys and girls. The book American Girls goes into detail about these behaviors. It's a startling read at best.
Sales' steady string of vignettes can be numbing at times, with one girl after another talking about boys asking them for “nudes,’’ the lack of romance in a culture that revolves around “hook-ups,’’ and the pressure to constantly project a virtually approved image of perfection. - USA Today
We need to be aware of what's going on. And we need to find loving ways to speak into the lives of the kids around us.
And just note, even taking a phone away doesn't stop this behavior. Kids find ways to participate on other people's devices or on computers. Trying to hide from it will only lead to more secrecy and vulnerability.
Please take a few moments to read the Washington Post article. Knowledge is power here. When we can talk knowledgeably about what's going on, we are more likely to have the power to change it.