Comcast Corporation recently announced the findings of an Internet safety survey to assess the general knowledge, attitudes and behaviors among U.S. adults and teens. They found that nearly “two-thirds of parents (66 percent) and teens (61 percent) believe they are in full control of what they post online and can take it down whenever they want. In fact, most parents and teens do not understand the reality that what goes online, stays online.”
That’s one reality an ex-cheerleader in Emmaus, Pennsylvania learned the hard way. In 2008, she and one of her friends posed in their underwear in front a mirror, snapped the picture and sent it to her boyfriend (at the time). She said she and her friend did it because they thought it was “cute.” Well, you probably know what happened next. The “boyfriend” eventually became an “ex-boyfriend” and did what many ex-boyfriends are doing these days: He shared the photo. But this ex-boyfriend didn’t just share it with a few friends. He posted it on an X-rated web site. Real piece of work, this guy is, huh? The article further warns:
Officials say most teens don’t realize how risky sexting can be and what a dangerous and unforgiving place cyberspace actually is. T. (the victim) agreed: “Girls have to know they’re gonna be out there no matter what if you take the pictures.”
T. said the website in question has been taken down many times. She says that after she learned about it during her freshman year, she would periodically check the site to make sure that no pictures of her or her friends were on it.
She learned from friends about a month ago that her photos were back online. “I didn’t think that many girls from EHS would be posted after mine (were posted). I kept hearing people talking about it and saw it on Facebook,” T. says.
T. has also been in contact with another 2011 grad whose pictures appear on the site.
Her friend, C., who is working toward her teaching degree at a Pennsylvania college, sent T. a text message yesterday related to the photos. T. said her friend is concerned about how the pictures may affect her teaching career.
“She’s really worried,” T. said. (Click here to read the rest of the article.)
Here’s the deal: Until parents realize that their little angels could be the subject of a newspaper article entitled, “Ex-Cheerleader Talks About Town’s Teen Porn Scandal,” they will not put sexting at the top of their list of necessary conversations to have with their daughters. Further, until parents realize that their darling sons could play the part of the lame ex-boyfriend in this story who uploads the pic to the World Wide Web, they will not put sexting at the top of their list of necessary conversations to have with their sons. The truth is, a lot of kids are doing this, including our church kids. Take for example, two heart-broken moms who just recently contacted me after discovering their own sweet daughters were sexting boys. One mother contacted me on Facebook and shared:
“I have read your books and raised my 15 yr old daughter in a Christian home and I am just devastated….. I just found out she sent a pic of herself topless to some boy she likes and now he of course, has forwarded to a few friends and it somehow got posted on Facebook.”
Another mother recently emailed me:
One day I felt a nudge to go on my daughter’s Facebook page – I have her password. I wasn’t home at the time, but I had my laptop with me. I logged onto her account and while I was looking through her chat messages, some started coming in (she was online at home at the same time). She was chatting with a boy from church and the next thing I know, they were talking about “ripping off their clothes” to “show each other they cared.” (It was with a playful, flirty attitude.) Sex was also mentioned. Well, you can imagine how I felt sitting there reading that.
Background – my daughter just turned 15, has been brought up in a loving, Christian home, home schooled, we taught her purity through Family Life Today’s Passport to Purity. When her father and I confronted her, she said, “Mom, I’m just kidding. It’s a joke.” I was so stunned and shocked that my little girl was saying these things. I found out that she had also done the same thing the weekend before while at a friend’s house on her friend’s cell phone. My daughter doesn’t have one (we had been considering it but after this happened, I don’t know when she’ll get one). Her friend told her that she shouldn’t be doing it, but she said it was no big deal. The reason I’m writing you is, she still doesn’t see what the big deal is. I talked to her friend last week and she told me that my daughter doesn’t think if she were presented with the situation again, if she would be able to resist sexting again.
The truth is, not a one of our children is beyond a moral fall of this nature. The more our children are exposed to the message that this kind of behavior is the norm and “no big deal,” the more likely they are to engage in the behavior. Like I’ve said in many of my books, it’s not enough to say, “Don’t do this because God says it’s wrong.” We must sit them down and take the time to go over the “why” behind God’s standards, as well as the long-term consequences that can occur, should they choose to ignore God’s standards. Consequences that could include their picture being posted to an x-rated porn site for perverts to ogle for the remainder of their days. Or a porn trafficking charge on their permanent records.
Mercy, we live in tough times. Fortunately, our God is bigger than any of this nonsense. And His grace is plenty enough to cover the sins of those who stumble. I for one, am living proof of that truth. Chances are, you are too. Let’s be sure to remember that when talking to our kids about stumbles of their own.
Now, go talk to your kids… 🙂