Washington, D.C. – Donna Rice Hughes, President of Enough Is Enough™ (EIE), the pioneering internet safety organization, advises parents to learn from the Anthony Weiner sexting scandal and become vigilant about the predatory and emotional dangers posed by careless sexting.
“In the case of former Rep. Anthony Weiner, sexting appears to have become a compulsive addiction,” said Donna Rice Hughes. “When someone continues behavior that leads to loss of a job, career, relationships and public humiliation, as is the case with Weiner, professional intervention, accountability and support is needed. It is so sad to see people in leadership succumb to sex addictions when there is so much to lose and so much help available.”
Research shows that sexting is considered by both youth and adults to be the new “normal,” but the considerable risks involved with sexting are simply not worth it. Sexting is now the 6th top ranked issue in the list of health concerns for U.S. children.(1) In the case of minors, sexting images of underage teens and tweens is considered child pornography which is a felony.
“Parents can use public cases such as Weiner’s as teachable moments: Sexting is not “okay.”
It is not safe, it is not admirable, and can lead to public humiliation and worse, in some cases. It can lead to the very real dangers of sexted images landing in the hands of sexual predators, cyberbullies and sextortioners in which lives can be shattered,” said Mrs. Hughes, who led EIE’s development and production of the Emmy award winning Internet Safety 101 curriculum to educate and empower parents to protect children from online dangers. The program, also available in Spanish, can be found on Vimeo and Amazon.
A report from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy found that:
- Although most teens who send sexually suggestive content are sending it to boyfriends and girlfriends, others say they are sending such material to those they want to hook up with or even to someone they only know online.
- Teens are conflicted about sending/posting sexually suggestive content–they know it’s potentially dangerous, yet many do it anyway.
Teens are sending sexually explicit messages and images, even though they know such content often gets shared with those other than the intended recipient.
- Young people who receive nude/semi-nude images and sexually suggestive texts and emails are sharing them with other people for whom they were never intended.
- Teens admit that sending/posting sexually suggestive content has an impact on their behavior.
Other research shows:
Peer pressure and popularity are key factors in why teens sext, despite knowing the potential risks.(2)
Growing evidence has identified a relationship between viewing pornography and violent or abusive behavior in young men. These findings are from a large survey of 4,564 young people aged 14 to 17 in five European countries which illuminate the relationship between regular viewing of online pornography, sexual coercion and abuse and the sending and receiving of sexual images and messages, known as “sexting.”(3)
Enough Is Enough offers tips for parents to protect kids from sexting including:
- Regularly talk to your kids about what they are doing online and outline the risks;
- Teach them to think before they post and that nothing online is truly private;
- Set expectations about online behavior;
- Utilize parental control tools offered by your mobile carrier.
(More information on preventing sexting can be found at http://internetsafety101.
EIE highly encourages parents to get a copy of the Internet Safety 101™ Program and learn how to help their teens and tweens avoid the serious negative impacts of sexting and other dangerous online activities.
ABOUT ENOUGH IS ENOUGH
Enough Is Enough® is a national bi-partisan non-profit organization who has led the fight to make the Internet safer for children and families since 1994. EIE’s efforts are focused on combating Internet p*rnography, child p*rnography, sexual predation, and cyberbullying by incorporating a three-pronged prevention strategy with shared responsibilities between the public, Corporate America, and the legal community.