Given the number of teens participating in a sexting incident – approximately 25% by the time they leave high school – sexting is every bit the plague-like phenomenon the media makes it out to be. Sexting is the taking and sending of racy pictures or sending racy texts to someone else. For those of us parents who didn't grow up with camera phones, the biggest question about sexting might be: Why?
There are many reasons why kids sext each other. They might do it to get attention, to flirt, as a thoughtless impulse, or even as a joke.
Peer pressure is also a factor in texting, especially from members of the opposite sex. A study by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy reported that of those who sent sexts, 51% of teen girls blamed “pressure from a guy,” while 18% of teen boys cited pressure from girls. I personally suspect that girls might even feel generally pressured to send sexts to compete for the attention of the boys they like.
While sexting in my opinion is never a smart or good idea, what I find most troubling about these statistics is that our sexting kids (especially our girls) aren't always completely comfortable themselves with what they're doing. In the case of our daughters, half the time they are doing it out of the need for acceptance and attention from a boy. That's a big problem.
Our girls need to develop the strength to resist pressure and most of all, not to base their self-esteem and their actions on the acceptance and approval of boys. Girls should grow up with the understanding that while sexts might garner attention from boys, they rarely garner respect – and a boy who gives them attention but not respect isn't worth their time.
These lessons are important for boys, too, but it seems like our girls are particularly vulnerable to making bad decisions in the hopes of pleasing a boy they like. So it seems that part of the overall issue may not really be sexting so much as it is self-esteem.
-Article Contributed by Jenny Evans