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    Monday, December 15, 2008

    Teens and Sexting


    Teens and sexuality has been a topic for decades. The latest fad of teen sexual expression has been a fad that has been around for at least 2 years. SEXTING. I've been talking about this issue with my youth leaders for well over a year, and the problem has only grown. With the ease of text messaging, we've seen teens flocking to texting. You can text in school and not get caught, texting plans can be cheaper than regular plans and teens seem to do all of their communication in 140 characters or less. Sexting is the sending nude or semi-nude photos of oneself via text messaging. A way of having "safe sex" via texting if you will. This lie of it being safe has been one of the many reasons why teens have been sucked into it.

    Being a Youth Pastor, I'm not naive enough to think my students are doing it...in fact I would guess that at least 10% have done it or have seen it done (that is a MODEST estimation).

    With the inception of text-plans, sexting has increased dramatically and sadly it is a fad that has only increased in appeal and use.

    You may have heard of Vanessa Hudgens sending nude photos of herself to her boyfriend via e-mail...that event in my mind served as a huge catalyst that only PERPETUATED this problem. In fact I would argue that her decision to do that opened the doors of young teen girls everywhere to thinking it's OK. Here a young TV/movie star, sending out nude photos of herself, getting publicity for it and boys across America googling her nude photo could in fact seem attractive to young teen girls who are uncomfortable in their skin, seeking the approval of boys.

    The affect on teen boys and the way they relate to their girlfriends after this event is also a big issue. I can only too well hear teen boys saying: "Hey Vanessa send nude photos to her boyfriend. We've been dating a month now...if you loved me, you'd text me some too!"

    I'm NOT being over-dramatic either, I'm being serious! The things that celebrities do, shapes the way teens live their lives.

    I'm sad to see that teen girls are giving in and teen guys are putting pressure to sext. This will have HUGE implications on our teens in the coming future. The porn industry is probably cheering this on, because soon these boys and girls who weren't meant to see a nude body yet, will soon desire more. They will want to see girls/guys masturbating, having live sex and it will skyrocket the use of pornography in our country 10-fold. More infidelity will slowly creep into the picture, more sex, more babies and more STD's.

    This is the problem we face. How can we answer these issues? What can we do to fight this battle as parents/youth leaders/ youth pastors? I think it starts with trust. Can we cultivate with these teens an atmosphere of trust where they will willingly discuss these issues with us? I think we need to dialogue with CLEAR heads about these issues. I think the worse thing to do is to sneak in and find the pictures, the ground the teen from here till eternity. It's hard to not snap and go crazy. If a teen would've said to me: "I sexted my boyfriend/girlfriend. He/she saw all of me and it was fun!" I would have the definite urge to flip-out, tell the parents, call the cops and break his/her cell phone right there! Punishment will be a NECESSARY piece to this puzzle, but dialogue is just as important if not more important. Teens need to know the dangers, implications and the future results of such behavior.

    How do we do that? I want this blog to be an open forum of discussion on this. It is HUGE. How can we punish, yet dialogue about sexting and other teen sexuality problems? How can we share with teens the importance of chastity, both in the act of and in this fad of texting?

    Here are some GREAT articles about sexting. Please read them so you can further your nowledge on this issue facing teens today:

    http://cpyu.org/Page.aspx?id=366143

    http://www.salon.com/mwt/broadsheet/2008/11/25/sexting/


    PS: You can Google "sexting" and tons more articles will appear. LET'S DISCUSS!

    6 comments:

    Erik said...

    while my teens have never mentioned it to me (never discovered them doing it), I wouldn't be too surprised to find that they are indeed sexting.

    My concern as a youth pastor is not whether or not to teach a Godly understanding of sexuality, but rather how my teens will live their lives. Do they nod in agreement at youth group and then go on to practice their sexuality in dangerous ways?

    Ty Walker said...

    Okay...before I write this let me first say that I love you and your soon to be born baby:
    -On the topic of Sexting:
    I have to bluntly say that I think you are jumping the gun. I'm not saying that its not something thats like amazingly amazing, but what I am saying is that its something that needs to be looked into a lot more before we can pass judgment on how serious the situation really is. I think that this is something that is getting more attention than is needed. this is the second piece I've read in the past 3 days on the topic and I'm still failing to see the absolute terror that it poses. Yes there will be people who get hurt but the way I see it, if your going to send a naked picture, expect to see it publicly and expect to be humiliated. I think that we are moving too fast on the subject. I don't think that it could lead to more sex UNLESS the parties involved take it to that level, in which case Sexting can't be the only one taking the blame. In this case Sexting can only account for 1/3 of the blame. The other 2/3(the parties involved) still have a choice. You can't blame sex on sending a picture. I'm sorry but you can't. A picture can't make you do anything. Why does every bad thing have to have the absolute most outrageous name that can be thought of? think about it "Sexting?" "CyberSex?" are these just names that we come up with to scare parents? honestly i don't know what else to say. Sexting may be bad but its being blown WAY out of proportion.
    ~T.E.Walker

    Marv Nelson said...

    @ Erik- Good thoughts!

    @ Ty- I both agree and disagree with you. I think it has gotten a lot of attention and isn't as big as they say...but it soon will be. On the fact of pictures not being a big deal coming to sex, I disagree and even the porn industry would disagree. The experts say all it takes is one nude picture seen for 10-20 seconds to get most men hooked on porn and more for woman (don't know the numbers). Men are visual creatures and when they see nudity, it is inside them to see more and then still more. The sex-addict only starts with soft-core porn (breasts only), then slowly gets sucked into hard-core porn (penetration), then on to hookers. Read this interview with Ted Bundy, then tell me what you think: http://relit.org/porn_again_christian/ch8.php

    Ty Walker said...

    Okay I read the interview and I see what its saying and I see what you are saying, but (yes there is a giant but)My point is still that we have the choice. We have the choice to take the picture, We have the choice to send the picture, We have the choice to stay with the person who sent the picture, and Marv, we have the choice to have sex. Bundy said that soft-core porn fueled the fire, but what it all boils down to is that in the beginning, HE HAD THE CHOICE! I know that porn is an addiction, but what do addicts do? When they admit they have or problem or when it gets so bad that somebody has to do it for them, they get help. I'm sorry but I can't buy it, this "Porn made me do it.." mentality, no porn didn't make anyone do shit! (Pardon my French). I'm sorry Marv, but i still feel that though the visually of it, the actions that come from it are made by some one generally in an ok state of mind, therefore, you can't blame sexting, or any other form of visual stimulation.

    Marv Nelson said...

    @ Ty- you are absolutely right. I wasn't saying it was "making" them have sex, I am simply letting people know its a new avenue that is ASSISTING in them making a choice. Porn doesn't "make" people do anything, it simply fuels an evil desire within them to act out. The core issue is the HEART of the person absolutely. I think you might've thought all along I was saying something I wasn't. The choice is theirs, TRUE. I am simply making people aware and that it concerns me is all ;) Love you bro, thanks for the communication!

    emergingyouth said...

    Marv,
    I appreciate your insightful look into some very real and contemporary areas of youth culture. I agree that this needs to be an area of concern and we simply cannot look the other way. I am sure that your first-hand experience with this has largely lead to your thoughts.
    Unfortunately, the longer we are enveloped into the culture surround adolescents, the more alarmed we become to what they are wrestling with and struggling through. May God gives us all the wisdom, strength, courage, and guidance needed in the difficult years ahead.