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Warning: Sexting can be hazardous to your health!

Has it really come to this? That we have to even SAY THIS is a travesty.

In a previous life, I worked in customer service for a paging company (back when dinosaurs roamed the planet) and later transferred over to their cellular division just as cell phones were starting to take off. Some of you may be old enough to remember the term “nights and weekends minutes” when you tried to make your calls in order to save money. Good times.

I remember when they first started putting cameras on phones. Frankly, I couldn’t imagine WHY anyone would have the need to carry a camera around 24/7, but that just goes to show my own lack of imagination.

I hope whoever came up with that idea spends an eternity roasting in hell.

As reported in the New York Times, a new study shows that 2/3 of girls between the ages of 12-18 have been asked to send nude photographs of themselves. If that surprises you, you clearly have not been paying attention. On the other hand – WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE TODAY????? The least surprising statistic is that boys are 4 times more likely to ask girls to send them naked pictures than the other way around. (I know. Shocker.) The Times has a number of suggestions, including parents discussing the problem with teens, telling them not to send OR request these photos, warning them of the potential legal consequences, etc. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/02/well/family/teenagers-stop-asking-for-nude-photos.html?action=click&contentCollection=family&contentPlacement=1&emc=edit_ml_20180104&module=package&nl=well-family&nlid=56954879&pgtype=sectionfront&region=rank&rre

Yes, all very good suggestions. If you have teenagers, you should definitely talk to them about this issue. If you have boys, please tell them that it is not nice to ask young ladies for nude photographs (and for good measure, tell them that they could be prosecuted for child pornography, go to jail and end up on the sex offenders registry for life.

But come on! Do you really need me or the New York Times or anybody else to TELL YOU THIS? How have we come to this as a society where that even has to be said?

Maybe I’m just old. When I was a teen, my parents forced me to use the kitchen phone (even if it meant stepping over me for an hour) to talk to my friends. My father refused to allow me a phone, TV or stereo in my room because “we’d never see you again until it was time for you to leave for college.” I can’t even imagine what he’d think if he had lived long enough to see teens walking around with cell phones.

Feminists are naturally concerned that parents are putting more burden on teen girls to avoid sexting than they are boys. Which is just stupid. Of course parents are more worried about girls sending nude photos because (as the study shows) girls are the ones being asked to SEND nude photos. And more importantly, girls are the ones bearing the brunt of the consequences. According to this study: “None of the young women who complied with sending photographs reported relief or benefit from sending their photographs. For some women, compliance led to self-doubt or further fear about what might happen in the future. Additionally, while many young women attempted to use compliance to fend off further consequences such as a lost relationship or ruined reputation, sending photographs often exacerbated problems by providing further ammunition to young men or resulting in the consequence they were attempting to avoid.” All of which is just a fancy way of saying “No girl that sent a nude photo of herself to a boy ended up happy with that decision.”

There are dozens of stories of young women driven to suicide after nude photographs of them were circulated around their school. Many others have dropped out, been forced to transfer, and generally had their young lives ruined as a result.

And that doesn’t even touch on the scariest aspect of this: nude photos have been used to blackmail young girls into becoming victims of sex trafficking. There are gangs actively recruiting girls of middle-school age into this scheme. What better way than to threaten “I’ll show your parents this naked picture of you if you don’t do what I say.”

So yes, PLEASE have this conversation with your teens. Check their phones. Have their photos uploaded to a shared cloud. Warn them about all the bad things that can happen from sexting.

And may God have mercy on us all for creating a society where this even has to be said.

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