Each week, one or two cases of sexting come to my office. Shattered and confused parents who accompany their son or daughter. In many cases, these boys and girls who range between 11 and 18 years have lost looks, empty, broken hearts and seem to carry an unbearable weight. Many parents do not know about this common practice of our youth and one of the best strategies to be able to guide and protect our children is precisely informing us.
What is sexting? Sexting is an action of sending messages with erotic content, whether these are text only or sexually explicit photographs and / or videos, using electronic devices especially cell phones.
Many parents with tear-filled eyes ask me repeatedly, why did he/she do it? Many pre-teens and teenagers are aware of some or all of the possible risks that come with sending an erotic or pornographic photo; even so, they take the picture and send it. This phenomenon has worried all nations of the world. International research has yielded interesting data that I have united with the data collected in my professional practice.
Young people practice sexting to show off, attract someone, show interest in someone or show commitment, gain popularity and approval, flirt, impulsiveness (act and then think), pressure from friends or partner, for revenge, intimidation and being victims of blackmail.
The young people trust the recipient of the image, understand that the photo is safe, and do not imagine, the different ways in which that image can leave the device. A robbery, an error, a joke, a mistake … or the will of the one who received it. Other causes are that our children from birth are bombarded with images loaded with eroticism and what they consume through toys, series, movies, novels, and promotions both on TV and the internet as well as prints, separates the values and family beliefs from their behaviors. They are exposed to messages that exploit sexuality associating it with the lack of ethics, moral, rudeness and violence. Little by little, the children have normalized in their system to see naked bodies and exhibiting themselves. These actions anesthetized the modesty, the shame, the respect for the intimacy and their body, pushing them to have an early sexuality that is evidenced when seeing the exaggerated behaviors and pseudo sexual adult language that they use in their own social networks and chats.
As parents, we must educate our children in the grave and painful consequences that this practice entails. Here I mention some of them: public humiliation for them and their family, anxiety, sadness and / or deep sadness, depression, isolation, fears, catastrophic and repetitive thoughts, sleep and / or food disturbance, desires to disappear and suicide.
The magazine Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine says, “Sexting images are used as a kind of emotional currency, which young people need to pay to maintain a relationship.” The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Center reported that 38% boys between the ages of 11 and 17 have received messages from mobile or email with sexual content. “88% of the suggestive images uploading minors to their Facebook or Twitter accounts are then compiled into adult websites,” according to a study by the Internet Watch Foundation.
If after reading all this information you feel overwhelmed, worried and want to protect your child, I invite you to get educated and involved with this matter.
If you are already going through this difficult situation with one of your children and you do not know how to help him/her, let me accompany you and support you through this process.