The danger of sexting, and non-consensual sharing

Here’s a not-surprising but nonetheless sobering line from the Herald-Times report on a sexting study:

  • Of those receiving photos, 23 percent reported sharing them with, on average, more than three friends.

Think about this for a second. High school sophomore girl sends a topless picture of herself to a senior, who just happens to be an (expletive deleted). The senior, because he is an (expletive deleted), sends the picture of the girl to three friends… and how many friends do they send it to? How many friends does the third tier forward the picture to? And the fourth? Suddenly the girl’s reputation is ruined and she is contemplating suicide. Maybe she attempts suicide. Some of the teens might be criminally prosecuted.

This is why parents need to carefully train their children on the appropriate use of technology, well before they reach the teenage years when hormones, peer pressure and emotions cloud judgment and lead to life-altering decisions made in the span of less than ten seconds. Parents also must carefully monitor their children and teens’ use of technology, because even the best can do really stupid things.

This does not just mean teaching girls to be modest. This means teaching young men to be respectful and responsible. It means teaching them to be gentlemen and that one thing a gentleman would never even consider doing is forward a topless picture of a girl to anyone else. A gentleman would never pressure a girl – in a relationship with him or not – to send him a sexual picture of herself. That young man needs to know that the worst backlash for behaving this way will not come from the girl or the girl’s father, but from his own parents – especially his own father.

Smartphones are here to stay, but unfortunately society was not ready for the implications of the power these devices have. We cannot undo the damage that has already been done. We can, however, do our best to prevent future damage. There is not a single government program that has any hope of fixing this problem. This is for the family and the church, and the latter has failed miserably in this area.

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