Yesterday, Techcrunch reported an alarming new study that suggests teens are sexting more than ever before.
The study, done by the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine (APAM), found that 28% of high-school teens reported texting fully-nude photos of themselves.
The new study suggests that white people, more than other demographics, are sexting up a storm: 35% of whites admitted sexting, followed by 28% of African Americans and 21% of Hispanics. For the first time ever, Asians came in last at a disappointing 19%.
APAM also detected a strong correlation between sexting and sexual activity. 77% of girls and 82% of boys who sexted also reported having real sex, raising questions about the psychological trauma caused by sexters who don’t know how to deliver the goods.
Under current laws, several million minors could be prosecuted for child pornography. As Techcrunch’s Gregory Ferenstein explains,
“Several million” teens could be held liable for child pornography, as some states do not define inappropriate sexual behavior as only between an adult and a minor. The prevalence of sexting has put some experts in the awkward position of pressing for laxer child pornography laws, so that curious teenagers aren’t branded as pedophiles.
Admittedly, since Justice is blind, this lumping together of curious kids and serious offenders is not unexpected. As the saying goes, when you’re fishing for crab, you kill a few dolphins.
While we prepare for the inevitable debate about the safety of our children, here are a few things to consider:
- Kids always underreport having sex. This means that the numbers are probably higher than publicized. This is especially true in America, where teens don’t care what their peers think of them and are devoted to making people who don’t have any sex feel better about themselves. If I had a dime for every time my friend Koulis swore that he wasn’t knocking boots just to make little Zimmie with the broccoli ears feel better about his monkish restraint, I’d have a couple gymnasiums and a library named after me. Kids are just shy like that!
- Laws are crucial to discouraging underage sex. Without laws against underage sex, teens would be going at it like paint on a Pollock canvas; pedophiles would have love parades—every day; and sex would permeate every dry-cleaned fabric of our nation like it does in Europe, where they show porn on basic TV. Don’t we see? The thin membrane of the state is the only thing that’s keeping our nation from devolving into sexual anarchy. Let’s not let that membrane get penetrated.
- Parents need to start parenting. Remember the ’50s? I don’t, but I’ve heard that those were some dark days for America. In places big and small, parents let their children roam the wild bustle of the city like urchins until dinner time, trusting them to use their pea-sized judgment before it was fully developed. Let’s call it the laissez-faire, French model of parenting. Well, we’ve outgrown that model. We know that insulating our children from every possible misadventure produces confident, well-adjusted citizens. Kids depend on us for advice, and lots of it. Remember: smartphones aren’t what causes sexting. Poor parenting causes sexting.
This study comes on the heels of another national study in which only roughly 6% of teens reported receiving a sext. Pollsters think that sampling bias and a random-digit dialing approach contributed to the anemic numbers and can explain the discrepancy between the two reports.