Love may not last forever, but dirty photos sent between cell phones do.
That message is one educators are trying to get across to teens naively texting one another revealing photos that could haunt them for the rest of their lives.
Bill Alberts, from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancies, says it’s important teens understand that online images can potentially be viewed by anyone from family and friends to college scouts and potential employers.
“You know, I’m not sure many young people understand that this is sort of a cyber-tattoo,” he told CBS News. “Once you press ‘send’ it is out of your hands and it can be used in ways that are a complete surprise to you.”
“Sex and Tech,” a survey conducted by Albert’s group, found one in five teens and one in three young adults has sexted nude or semi-nude images. Forty-four per cent said it’s common for sexually suggestive text messages and images to be shared with people the sender never intended.
An 18-year-old Ohio boy is all too familiar with the “surprising” consequences Alberts talks about. The teen was convicted of distributing child pornography after he forwarded nude photos of his ex-girlfriend to everyone in his address book. He was kicked out of college and is now a registered sex offender who can’t leave the country or live with his father, who lives near a school.
“Other kids need to know that this is not something that they should be doing,” he told Nancy Grace in a radio interview. “Their life could change and it will be ruined because of it.”
Girls who send provocative photos may find themselves embarrassed, teased, or bullied like Cincinnati teen Jesse Logan, who committed suicide after a racy photo she sent to her then-boyfriend was sent from phone to phone.
And in Pennsylvania, a group of girls face pornography charges after posing for revealing photos.
Statistics Show Sexting Prevalent
Teens and young adults taking part in the “Sex and Tech” survey said sexting is “fun and flirtatious.” Many said technology makes them more forward and aggressive.
The survey found:
- 22% of teen girls and 18% of boys have sent or posted nude or semi-nude images of themselves
- 39% of teens have sent or posted sexually suggestive messages
- 48% of teens have received sexually suggestive messages
- 47% of teens say “pressure from guys” is the main reason girls and women send and post sexually suggestive messages and images
- 67% of teens said sending sexually suggestive content could have serious consequences, but nearly 25% said it was no big deal
- 39% of boys and 21% of girls said they’ve sent sexually suggestive messages and images to people they want to hook up with or date
- 15% of teens who sent sexually suggestive content sent it to people they only know online
- 11% of girls between the ages of 13 and 16 years have sexted
|Gordon Hay is executive director and founder of Venture Academy for Troubled Teens, a residential treatment program that provides an alternative to boot camps for teens. Venture Academy has schools in Ontario and BC and serves families from through the US and Canada including those from Alberta, Newfoundland, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. For information on available treatment programs, visit www.ventureacademy.ca.|