Sexting: a Teen’s Rite of Passage

A Serious Dilemma

Jennifer Greene Sullivan

As a parent, you want to protect your child. When she was a babe that toddled, you chased after her and soothed bumps and bruises. Then, you stopped long enough to breathe through parenthood, and now she looks like a grown woman. Yet, she has the brain development of a thirteen year old. You are left to ponder where all the time has gone. Certainly, you believe that you’ve won the hard fight as a parent, yet eighth grade introduces more than physical science and equations to these fledgling adults.

This past Christmas of her eighth grade year, she received a cell phone from her dad as a gift. You suggested that he wait because she is not mature enough for an electronic device. Unfortunately, you could not possibly imagine the issues that would arise in the future. Six months come and go, you trust that her dad monitors her online activity, texting habits, and social media presence. It will be the monitoring of her social media accounts that leads to finding inappropriate Instagram messages on her phone. EXTREMELY inappropriate.

Your precious, yet not so innocent, thirteen year old has been sexting on Instagram. You are shocked. You are devastated. You are disgusted. How do you handle this? How did this happen? What is going on with the world? You’re the kind of mom that researches. You’re the kind of mom that cares and cries and rants. You find in your researched rantings that sextings is a teenage PROBLEM.

You learn that 80 percent of teens send sexts to others before the age of 18 (Sexting Facts and Statistics). You read this quote, and your eyes BULGE:

 “According to research, those teens who are sexting or propositioned to send a sext are more likely than their peers to have sexual intercourse” (Sexting Facts and Statistics).

You read the statement again, and you realize the problem of sexting bleeds over to other concerns. Teen pregnancy in the US may have decreased in the last few years, yet the risky behavior of teenage sexting has increased. Why would they want to do this? Are they pressured? Are they lonely? Are they seeking attention and acceptance? You recognize that these reasons are probably all true. These reasons lead to messages and photos that make teens vulnerable to strangers. Leaked photographs could remain available online indefinitely.

You throw the reasons and the why’s and the how’s in the garbage. Fix the problem. Concentrate. You’re the parent.

But how?




Post-script: I just discovered that even Anne Frank wrote about sex in her diary and  obscured the naughty words with brown paper glued to the pages. Thirteen year olds may have more experience writing about sex than I first thought

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I am an English teacher, mother, and wife, but I love to write. I feel that I am blessed to be able to use my talent to write about my children's books, poems, short fiction, and parenting. Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have about my experiences with beginning a writing career while focusing on my children and my job. I look forward to comments and to hear from my readers!

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