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And it’s hardly certain that youth sexting is the dangerous scourge that most adults imagine.
Let’s be clear: There are serious risks associated with teen sexting, including bullying and exposure to adult sexual predators.
In a 2012 study of seven high schools in Texas, 28 percent of sophomores and juniors admitted that they had sent a naked picture of themselves over text or email.
But these teenagers were no more likely than their nonsexting peers to engage in other risky sexual behaviors, like unprotected intercourse, alcohol or drug use before sex, or sex with multiple partners.
Many teenagers regard sexting as a normal part of courtship — as necking in the car was for earlier generations.
Witness the recent “sexting” revelations at Cañon City High School in Colorado, where it is reported that 100 students traded naked pictures of themselves and one another.
As the story went viral, critics have inevitably asked why the school hadn’t done more to educate students about sexting. Public ambivalence about youth sexuality limits what the schools can do, nor do we have strong evidence that schools can affect teenagers’ behavior, in any event.
So the best answer to sexual text messages probably lies in … Parents, not schools, should be our primary sex educators, of course.
But most of them grew up in a time well before sexting, so they’d be wise to introduce their children to a more up-to-date source.