Sex crimes

Stop demonizing teen sexting.
In most cases, it’s completely harmless.

Sexting is becoming a normal part of teens' sexual development.
By Elizabeth Englander
Washington Post Op-Ed, 2014-11-07

Elizabeth Englander is a professor of psychology and director of
the Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center at Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts.

Stories of teens taking and sending a naked picture of themselves with their phones have been all over the news media in recent years. The outcome? Shocking, according to reports which have suggested that humiliation and sometimes even suicide can follow.

But what is the reality? Sexting is often seen as a dicey electronic version of “I’ll show you mine, you show me yours”. Many teens (and adults) engage in it. Indeed, some are suggesting that it is becoming a “normal” part of adolescent sexual development. And in general, few psychological problems (if any) are correlated with the behavior.

Here’s the bottom line: research suggests that most photos don’t end up in disasters, either socially (being passed around, teased, bullied) or criminally (being prosecuted).

Such outcomes are possible, but they aren’t highly probable. We should make kids aware of these possibilities, but we have to do that without suggesting that disaster is likely or, worse, inevitable.


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