A topic that continues to be a concern is sexting. Research published in the Journal of American Medical Association Pediatrics reports that the percentage of pre-teens and teens who have sent a sext has been increasing in recent years–which is not surprising since sexts happen much more over cell phones than other types of screens. The research, which comes from 39 combined studies, shows that almost 15 percent of teens report having sent explicit images of themselves and just about a third of them receive them. The research also found that 12 percent of teens have forwarded a sext without consent.

Let’s face it – this ‘threat’ it also reality in our communities and schools, and we thought that it would be beneficial to address this topic once again.

What is Sexting?

In the  Insight Into magazine, dated October 2016, the word ‘immoral texting’ is used to describe this topic and is explained as follows: 

Forwarding sexual photos or sexually suggestive messages through text messages, Snapchat, WhatsApp, e-mail, or other means of communication which our smartphones and other computing devices allow us to do today. 

As parents, we ought to be on our alert and communicate with our children. A few questions that come to mind are: “What if their picture is shared without consent? What if their picture ends up in the wrong hands or the authorities find out?” These are questions we want our kids to ask themselves when presented with the decision to sext.

We have to communicate that they should never send naked pictures of themselves and especially for older kids, help them understand the consequences of such behaviour.

What are the laws for Sexting?

According to a JAMA Pediatrics report from last April that analyzed 39 studies of just over 110,000 under 18-year-olds (the mean age was 15.16 years, but ages ranged from 11-17 years)— it was found that roughly 15% of teenagers send sexts and 28% receive them.

It is so important to have an open line of communication with preteens and teens about the issues around revealing photos and videos (yes, videos—some teens send short sexually explicit videos to one another).

For example: In 2015, two 16-year-olds from North Carolina were arrested and charged with multiple felony counts of sexual exploitation of a minor under the state’s child pornography laws. Their crime? The boyfriend and girlfriend sent nude photos to each other via text. They were charged as adults, faced four to ten years in prison and would have to register as sex offenders if convicted.  

God’s will

Again, we would like to refer to the Insight Into magazine and quote the following:

Does God’s Word say anything about these things? Yes, it does! Consider the passage in Proverbs 5:15-21 where Solomon speaks to his son about the beauty of a marriage relationship. Verse 17 reads, “Let them be only thine own, and not strangers’ with thee.” In verse 20, Solomon asked his son, “And why wilt thou, my son, be ravished with a strange woman, and embrace the bosom of a stranger?” The relationship between a husband and wife is private and only reserved for marriage life. Therefore, nudity should never be shared with strangers. Don’t these verses clearly condemn the practice of communication in which you share the indecent pictures of yourself or others with strangers outside of marriage?

Review and speak out 

Quoted Insight Into Article as advice to our (young) people and discussion points for parents and educators:

  1. Think long-term and consider the consequences of what you do. Where might your message and your picture end up? The Lord sees all things. Is what I am doing sin? What are the consequences of sin? This is a very serious matter. 
  2. Never take pictures of yourself that are private. Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and is only meant for your future husband or wife and within the marriage relationship.
  3. Law enforcement gives our teenagers simple advice: Never send pictures of yourself which you wouldn’t dare to show your grandmother.
  4. Before you hit the send button, pause and think about the long-term results. Remember, you have no control where your message or image may travel to. The potential damage can be so disastrous it could ruin your life.
  5. Forwarding indecent pictures of someone underage makes you as guilty as the original sender. Failing to alert authorities to it places you at risk of being charged with child pornography.
  6. Never open files from people who you don’t know. Sometimes it contains a virus by which they can take over your computer and search your hard drive.
  7. Immediately report any indecent images you may receive to your parents, your teachers, or even your local law enforcement. 
  8. Above all, may you ask for the Lord’s blessing on all that you do. He will never bless things that go against His Word. He will punish sin, but He will reward the faithful. What greater reward can there be than to go to a place where there is no more sin, no more peer pressure, no more bullying, and no more sickness? May that be our longing and desire. 

Advice

Lastly, the editors of the Insight Into article urge our young people with the following message:

“Protect yourself against the unsought intrusions of these kinds of communications. First of all, bow your knees each and every day and ask the Lord to protect you against sin. Ask Him to “lead you not into temptation” (see Matthew 6:13). 

But dear young friends, don’t bring yourself into temptation either! It is in this context that Paul warned his spiritual son Timothy, “Flee also youthful lusts; but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2:22). 

But there is more. We are also responsible. Make yourself accountable to your parents. They are your best guardians. Remember that this is for your own safety. Don’t look at monitoring programs negatively. They are like the defence forces within a country.”

As a modern media committee, we strongly advise limiting cell phone use among our young children. And if they need a mobile telephone (not a smartphone with internet capabilities) at a young age, please do monitor usage and restrict areas where they can use their device. Educate yourself and communicate regularly about the dangers and proper usage of these devices.

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