Local Editorials

Our View: Sexting a serious issue among teens

The recent case involving sexting and felony child pornography charges at Barrington Middle School is a reminder of the dangers technology brings to teenagers and the consequences that poor decisions can have.

In the Barrington incident, two middle school students, both 14, were arrested on possessing and disseminating child pornography charges after they were accused of texting sexually explicit photographs and video of another student to classmates at Barrington Middle School-Station Campus.

Statistics show that the increased availability and popularity of smartphones is leading to an increase in sexting among teens. Consider:

• According to the Pew Internet & Life Project, 20 percent of 16-year-olds and 30 percent of 17-year-olds have received a sext.

• An MTV-Associated Press poll indicated 49 percent of teens believe sending and receiving sexts is very common at their age.

• According to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, 44 percent of teens said it is common for sexually suggestive text messages to get shared with people other than the intended recipient.

Teens who participate in sexting put themselves at risk in a number of ways. In the Barrington instance, these students now face felony charges.

In the past few years, there have been several reports of teens who committed suicide due in part to the harassment they faced at school when nude photos they intended to be sent privately to boyfriends or girlfriends were disseminated to classmates.

Besides the embarrassment of half the class seeing what was intended to be private, there are pedophiles who seek and obtain these images.

Poor decisions in one’s teen years now can be chronicled digitally and live forever.

Sexting is a serious issue for teens and our society. It’s not a comfortable issue to talk about. But parents of teens and preteens should have that discussion.

Let your sons and daughters know the very serious consequences of sexting. They are consequences that can affect them for the rest of their lives.

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