Family Magazine

Learning From The Mistakes Of The Military: Nude Photos and Teens

By Joanigeltman @joanigeltman
This week there was a big news story about Marine Corps soldiers posting nude photos of female marines on a private marine Facebook group. It seems that they either secretly and illegally photographed female marines or posted photos that female marines had shared with soldiers or boyfriends, that had been hacked from female marine's computers. These women thought that these private photos would remain private."  Here is the link of a Boston Globe article as well as a just published op ed from the NYtimes that my blood boil. these soldiers were once teens or may still be teens. Where are they getting the message that this behavior is acceptable???  We are not doing a good job teaching our boys about respect for women!!!
I have had a rash of calls over the last couple of weeks from parents who either accidentally (an opportunity presented itself) or deliberately (regular monitoring) found words and pictures on their teen's phone that sent them into parent hell. No parent, is ever prepared to see language on their teen's phone that sounds like it has been copied from the most disgusting porn movie ever. And by the way, the girls are equally as "colorful" as the boys.
Found these interesting statistics, share them with your teen.
The percent of teenagers who have sent or posted nude or semi-nude pictures or video of themselves:
  • 20% of teenagers overall
  • 22% of teen girls
  • 18% of teen boys
  • 11% of young teen girls ages 13-16
The percent of teenagers sending or posting sexually suggestive messages:
  • 39% of all teenagers
  • 37% of teen girls
  • 40% of teen boys
15 Percent of teenagers who have sent or posted nude or seminude images of themselves say they have done so to someone they only knew online. 48 Percent of teenagers say they have received such messages 71 Percent of teen girls and 67% of teen guys who have sent or posted sexually suggestive content say they have sent or posted this content to a boyfriend or girlfriend. 21 Percent of teenage girls and 39% of teen boys say they have sent such content to someone they wanted to date or hook up with. 44 Percent of both teen girls and teen boys say it is common for sexually suggestive text messages to get shared with people other than the intended recipient. 36 Percent of teen girls and 39 % of teen boys say it is common for nude or semi-nude photos to get shared with people other than the intended recipient. 51 Percent of teen girls say pressure from a guy is a reason girls send sexy messages or images; only 18 % of teen boys cited pressure from female counterparts as a reason. 66 Percent of teen girls and 60% of teen boys say they did so to be “fun or flirtatious”; their most common reason for sending sexy content. 52 Percent of teenage girls used sexting as a “sexy present” for their boyfriend. 44 Percent of both teen girls and teen boys say they sent sexually suggestive messages or images in response to such content they received. 40 Percent of teenage girls said they sent sexually suggestive messages or images as “a joke.” 34 Percent of teen girls say they sent or posted sexually suggestive content to “feel sexy.” 12 Percent of teen girls felt “pressured” to send sexually suggestive messages or images.
So now what? First read these article with your teens. This is a front page story!! Your teens need to understand the very very serious consequences of sharing these kinds of intimate photos either consensually or not!! Both boys and girls. Teen have magical thinking when it comes to sharing private messages and and sexy photos. Teens unfortunately do not think there is anything wrong, clearly if 40% think it is just a joke. What they need you to help them with is that the "joke" could be on them!
An outrageous text or sexy picture will for sure be shared amongst friends. I can hear the conversation now: "Hey guys look at the picture Sally sent of her tits!" Or Hey guys, Sally said she'd blow me" Now Sally is not only going to have to answer to the one guy she "flirted" with but 10 of his best friends who will probably now corner her at school, the mall, at a party and ask for her to make good on her offer to them as well. If it's good for one it's good for everyone.
Even if a teen shares a sext or sexy picture with a boyfriend or girlfriend, it is more than likely that this couple will split up before too long, and someone will be the injured party looking for revenge. Hello naked pictures. 
These are scenarios it is important to talk about with your teen. Using and I get it statement: "I get that kids think sending sexy pictures and text messages is no big deal. But I do need you to understand that it is a big deal and that what you send to someone will for sure get passed around. If you wouldn't say in person what you write in your texts, it shouldn't be on your phone. Would you go up to a boy and say "I want to suck your dick", or a girl and say "suck my dick" I don't think so, unless I don't know you very well. Would you go to a party and start taking your clothes off, and parade around in your underwear, if not, it should not be on your phone. Just because you don't feel the embarrassment or humiliation because you aren't present when the viewing party happens, doesn't mean you should share your body with the world. This is a safety issue. People make assumptions about your willingness to participate in sexual situations based on what you put out there. I would never want anyone to take advantage of you, or put you in a situation you can't handle because they misunderstood your intentions. " I love you and want you to be safe" 
Parents, especially those with middle school kids, you must monitor their phones. It is not an invasion of privacy, it is a physical and mental health safety issue. Teens are impulsive, and conforming. If "everyone" is doing it they will want to do it too. You don't need to get angry with them about that, just understand with them, that it is hard to not do something if all their friends are doing it. You should surprise them every now and them with a phone check, done together. This is NOT about punishing them if you find this stuff, it is a time to help them strategise a solution with you about how not do it. Yelling and taking their phone away will NOT solve this problem, educating will!

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