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  March 9, 2010

Welcome to another edition of The Buzz News Flash.  It seems that we can't escape hearing about a recent sexting incident from local or national media sources. This weekend, The Boston Globe reported that police are investigating possible child pornography charges after an occurrence of sexting at a local middle school. 


What is sexting and how can we talk to our teens about the issue?
 
Sexting is when people take sexually revealing pictures and send them as text messages or attachments.
 
Youth send these messages for a variety of reasons: some send them to show off, some to entice someone, to show interest or in some cases to prove commitment. There are also some youth who are pressured into sending these messages.
 
What can we do about sexting?
 
Remember there is no need to panic.  This is an opportunity for discussion.  Don't wait for this to happen to your child, have the conversation now while the issue is all over the news. 
 
I.      Start by hearing from your teen.
 
The following questions are recommended by www.NetSmartz.org and can open the discussion.
 
  • Have you received a sexual message or picture on your cell?
  • Has anyone asked you or pressured you to send a nude or sexual picture?
  • Do you think it is okay to send these images? Why?
  • What could happen to you if you send or forward a sexual text message or naked picture with your cell phone?
  • How likely is it that images intended for one person will be seen by others?

II.      Next you can start to discuss the consequences.
 
 The most important point to get across is, "Think before you hit the send button!"
 
Remind your child:

  • Not only could you face school suspension, you may face trouble with the law including child pornography charges. If you forward, you are as responsible as the original sender.
  • Once you press send you can't control where the image may travel.
  • Never take images of yourself that you wouldn't want everyone to see.
 
These points are suggested by the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Common Sense Media.

Sincerely,
Parent Education
Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts

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The Buzz News Flash is brought to you by
Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts' Parent Educator, Linette Liebling.