Two university researchers are urging schools and parents to teach their teens "safe sexting" procedures – a tact one cultural commentator says is both dangerous and reckless.
"It is Time to Teach Safe Sexting" – that's the title of an article published by Drs. Sameer Hinduja of Florida Atlantic University and Justin Patchin of the University of Wisconsin in the December 2019 issue of Journal of Adolescent Health. Their self-described "harm reduction philosophy" aims to "curtail the worst of the potential consequences of sexting."
"A more comprehensive, research-informed curriculum covering sexting motivations, complications, consent, and deflection strategies when pressured is also necessary. Although participating in sexting is never 100% 'safe' (just like engaging in sex), empowering youth with strategies to reduce possible resultant harm seems prudent at this time." (Excerpt taken from the "Conclusions" section of the article)
Among the actions they recommend to sext safely? "Consider [sending] boudoir pictures … that involve suggestion rather than explicitness." Such images, they say, "can still be intimate and flirty but lack the obvious nudity that could get you in trouble."
OneNewsNow spoke with Linda Harvey of Mission: America, who points out there's a debate currently in Washington state about including "safe sexting" in sex-ed curricula. "… It teaches teens that now sexting is here to stay and it's just a matter of consent," she describes.
Hinduja and Patchin make a similar argument, stating that attempting to minimize the potential harm via "safe sexting" education "simply recognizes the reality that young people are sexually curious, and some will experiment with various behaviors with or without informed guidance."
Harvey thinks that's the wrong approach. "This is dangerous and reckless policy that should be absolutely discouraged," she argues.
"It has nothing to do with positive and responsible parenting. This is something that will be damaging in the long run in ways that we can't even foresee. But it's also a criminal and legal issue as well."
In their research, Hinduja and Patchin report 14% of participants (ages 12-17) in the study had sent sexually explicit pictures while 23% had received such images. Those figures represent an increase of 13% for sending and 22% for receiving from what was found in 2016.