Ignorance is not bliss: A conversation you must have with your teens

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… :)

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Excellent advice. It’s amazing how naive I can be about the possibility that my kids (3 boys, 2 girls, from ages 16 to 7) might do something like this or they’ll be influenced by friends to do something foolish. I will talk with them all and pray more specifically. I also plan to share the article with other mom friends. Thank you for the humor in the midst of a serious topic. You really connect to my heart. God bless.

  2. Thank you for posting this article. I have talked to my two daughters (15 and 19) about sexting many times in the past and will do so again with this specific article in hand. I know so far, praise God, they have never engaged in it or been forwarded any such messages. (I also have all picture mail blocked on their phones for this specific reason – I don’t want them to receive questionable photos!). I wanted to note that I have a friend whose daughter went to a private Christian school and was exposed to more of this type of thing than my children at public school. I don’t say that to bash Christian schools at all, but to remind everyone that going to a Christian school doesn’t automatically make your child safe. Thanks so much Vicki!

  3. Barbara Head says:

    I am an older adult with grown children and teen grandchildren and I am very concerned about these things today. All this nonsense went on when I was growing up but it was much harder to spread because we did not have the tools that the kids have today. The Bible says that things will get worse in the last days. Knowledge increases and like birth pangs the frequency and intensity increases. I pray everyday for my precious grandchildren.

  4. Nicole says:

    Don’t think that girls are the only ones sexting. Boys can be influenced to do this too. And girls can be just as mean. Sadly I found this out the hard way. I would recommend like Barbara says have the picture mail blocked. I have since instilled this on the phones and taken other precautions. I wish I knew what I know now when we first gave our boys phones ….Educate yourselves BEFORE you allow access to phones and facebook etc. Some of our children need to be TAUGHT to use these things properly. Stuff you think your committed Christian child would never do becomes extremely tempting. Once they start down the slippery slope it is an extremely fast ride….the climb up can be alot more difficult. Thank-you for all you insight on these issues. I know for myself you have helped walk me thru a very difficult journey. Just finished reading your 5 conversations for boys….EXCELLENT!!! We have 4 awesome boys!!! Wish I had it when some of them were alot younger but the info is very useful even if you have to play catch up.(not sure if my 18 year old is enjoying getting the condensed version all at once!!ha ha) Nicole

  5. So thankful you are willing to address these issues. So thankful.

  6. Thank you for this article. Very hard for me to read. But crucial as I raise my own children.

    I was raised in a “Christian” home. We almost never read the Bible at home, attended church sporadically, and rarely prayed except before meals. My mother tried to protect me by telling me that impure behavior was wrong because God said so, but I had no understanding of consequences or any true foundation of faith before going off to college.

    I waited until I was 21 and then decided I would choose my future husband and proceed to give my heart and self away. Now HE never said he would marry me and God certainly never guided me in this choice as I was actively ignoring Him, but I assumed wrongly that by beginning marital relations we would thus eventually be married. Suffice it to say, college graduation and 5 faithful years later, no marriage. I thank God every day my plan was not His plan because He gave me the most wonderful husband ever.

    I agree whole heartedly with your comment that parents need to share the long lasting, spiritual and physical consequences that can occur as we slide down the slippery slope of rebellion. I don’t mean spill all the ugly details of our own rebellion onto our children as a burden. That’s why I am excited to find your books!

    Please tell me the names of the books I should buy for helping with these conversations with my kids. My children are young still but I need the wisdom now so I can devour it and be ready!

    Thank you for your ministry to save our children from suffering. And one last comment- Praise the Lord for His amazing grace to wash away the guilt and shame regardless of how far we have wandered and what stupid choices we have made. Consequences last a long time sometimes, but His sweet grace helps us to deal with it until we are called home.

    P.S. Will you be passing the baton on to someone else for the You and Your Girl conferences since I see your last one is coming up? My daughter is not yet old enough and we need something like this in our future.

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