Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Is Safe Sexting Safe?

You knew this was coming. As more and more adolescents send pictures of their private parts to their lovers, real and imagined, the mental health profession is on the case. Specifically, its practitioners are touting the idea that sexting is part of normal adolescent development, not something to be distressed about.

The study, authored by John Temple et al.  was published in the august journal The Lancet. The New York Post reports:

“[Adolescents’] exploration of their sexual identity is not only normal, but a developmental and biological imperative,” lead author Jeff R. Temple tells The Post.

“Sexting in Youth: Cause for Concern?,” published in the health journal the Lancet, analyzed 39 studies that tracked more than 110,000 teens. The research arrives at a time when sex educators, in addition to scientists, are rethinking how realistic an abstinence-only approach to sexuality is.

Really… when, in the course of human history, have adolescents routinely sent pictures of their genitals over their iPhones. They might have indulged in certain sexual activities. Surely, this was the case when people tended to marry young. But, exploring your sexuality with your spouse or your paramour is not the same thing as sending pictures of your genitals into cyberspace. Exploring and exposing are not the same thing. Is it too much to expect that journal authors would know the difference?

The second problem, proving definitively that Temple cannot think at all, arrives when he says that the alternative to sexting is abstinence. Really? The alternative to sexting is keeping your pants on. We tend to advise young people against exploring their sexuality in middle school. This does not mean that they are going to be forever abstinent, but it does mean that they need to have sufficient maturity to deal with the emotions that accompany sexual experimentation. 

Nowadays, serious professionals are helping young people to take better pictures of their genitals. No kidding. But note, even these wanna-be purveyors of pornography tell young people to cover their faces. And to hide any other distinguishing characteristics.  This tells us that shame has not gone completely out of style:

Some are even teaching teens how to sext more safely.

“One of the basic rules I always talk about is know your angles — and I don’t mean figure out which way you’re going to look best,” Florida-based sex educator Cassandra Corrado, 26, tells The Post. She encourages her students, mostly college freshmen, to cover up distinguishing marks, including tattoos, birthmarks and freckles in their photos, and to make sure the background is ambiguous.

“Usually people’s minds are blown by the simplicity of not including your face,” Corrado says.

Still, this merely lowers the level of risk. Would it not be better if we recommended that children not sext at all.

And of course, these sex educators believe that you can sext and still protect your privacy. They are living in a dream world. Apparently, they never heard of fappening:

“We have to have much bigger conversations than don’t send a naked picture,” Ohioan Lydia Bowers, 37, a sex educator working with parents and educators of teens aged 15 and younger, tells The Post.

Bowers sees her work as preemptive, encouraging younger adolescents and their families to think critically about sexting before there’s an issue. “Safe sexting includes being developmentally able to take precautions,” she says.

Those safe sexting precautions significantly involve being tech savvy and guarding your digital privacy. “Protect your device — use your password,” Corrado says.

“Cloud storage tends to be much more easily hacked into,” says Bowers. For this reason, she advises keeping sensitive photos in more private places than a phone’s photo roll.

The bottom line is that mental health professionals are telling children that it’s normal to sext. Imagine the child who is disinclined to take the risk. He or she will now need to feel that his or her behavior is abnormal. How can a child resist the pressure to sext then?

The story notes that children who send images of their genitalia are violating child pornography laws? Why doesn’t the same rule apply to adults who are encouraging the practice?


Sam L. said...

"Exploring and exposing are not the same thing. Is it too much to expect that journal authors would know the difference?" I as going to say "NO", but clearly these people would prove me wrong.

"Fappening" is a word new to me. This world is stranger, by far, than I had thought.

Anonymous said...

This type of person is usually a woman of causes and the type has been around and plentiful for quite some time.

The class in highschool was Social Studies and the teacher who came into the classroom a chubby woman with her hair in pigtails. She looked silly, everyone agreed. She said: "Hi I'm Nell and you can call me Nell." In hindsight, Nell's idea of Social Studies was the Feminist Agenda. She asked questions like: "Why is a guy who sleeps with a lot of girls tough and a girl who has slept with a lot of boys a used rag who has been round the block?"
We had no idea. I don't remember knowing anyone (m/f) who fit the description. Nell also took our class to the pub. There we sat, one afternoon, not knowing what to do or where to look. I think we had lemonade in this temple of patriarchy.

At the time, no one saw it for what it was - pushing young people towards promiscuity and alcohol. Nowadays, Nell would undoubtedly have supported safe sexting and exploration of our sexuality. I sincerely hope she retired years ago, and is no longer active in any other way, but unfortunately there are far too many like her.