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The Dangers of 'Sexting'

by Sue Hubbard, M.D.

If you are a parent of a teen, or even a ‘tween, have you heard of “sexting”? If you haven’t, you should know about this phenomenon that is happening coast to coast. “Sexting” is a form of text messaging, where racy or explicit sexual images are being sent from cell phone to cell phone. Teens say this is just a form of flirting. Most people would think otherwise. When you view some of the suggestive and provocative pictures that are being “sexted”, it is often embarrassing and some would argue these “sexts” are a form of pornography.

A simple picture sent in a suggestive bikini may seem innocent enough until it is sent around an entire school. Unfortunately, many of the pictures are taken without the bikini, showing breasts and nudity. While a young teen may think this picture is only for one set of eyes, many of the pictures are then passed around to classmates, and even beyond that. A recent survey showed that one in five teens have sent or posted provocative photos of themselves. So many teens “sext” before they think and then must face the consequences.

The consequences of “sexting” include legal issues about trafficking in child pornography, which most teens haven’t even heard of. They are not aware that this is a criminal offense.

At the same time, the emotional turmoil that a teen faces after her nude picture has now been passed around her school, may lead to humiliation, depression and even suicide in the case of one teen in Ohio.

“Sexting” and cyberbullying are both discussions that every parent needs to have with their child. The dangers of technology can be very real when the technology is not used appropriately.

That’s your daily dose, we’ll chat again tomorrow.

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One Response to “The Dangers of 'Sexting'”

  1. Melissa says:

    You scooped “Nightline,” which featured this topic tonight, 3/31/09 – a week after Dr. Sue! Congrats! ~Melissa

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