I sat in the seminar and listened. For some reason, the speaker asked that the taping be stopped as she spoke about the subject.
“Sexting,” she warned. Quizzing the mothers in the group, she continued: Are you familiar with sexting? Are you aware that, on the internet, young people are sending nude pictures of themselves? Do you know they’re photographing intimate parts of their bodies? Do your children really need a cell phone? Do they need the texting feature if you decide that indeed they need a cell phone?
Ask Albert and Cynthia Logan about sexting. Cynthia has come forward with a plea for restrictions on these activities. On July 3rd last year, her daughter Jessica, an 18-year-old Sycamore High School senior hanged herself in her bedroom, after having sent a nude photo to her boyfriend. She was Albert and Cynthia’s only child.
Now, Jessie’s parents are attempting to launch a national campaign seeking laws to address “sexting” – the practice of forwarding and posting sexually explicit cell-phone photos online. The Logans also want to warn teens of the harassment, humiliation and bullying that can occur when that photo gets forwarded.
Cynthia Logan and Parry Aftab, an attorney and one of the leading authorities on Internet security and cyberbullying, plan to attach Jessie’s name to a national campaign to educate teens about the dangers of sexting.
Aftab, based in New York, is the catalyst for a network of volunteers working to stop cyberbullying. She operates two Web sites: wiredsafety.org, the world’s largest and oldest cyber safety organization, and stopcyberbullying.org.
After Jessica sent the nude picture of herself to her boyfriend, he in turn sent it on to other people. When Jessica learned of this, she was embarrassed, and according to her parents, her whole personality changed.
Pressure is on young people to join in this lewd and dangerous practice.
A national study by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy revealed that 1 in 5 teen girls or 22 percent say they have electronically sent or posted nude or semi-nude images online of themselves.
Some area school resource officers and principals estimate that at least half of the students have an inappropriate photo on their cell phone.
It was her mother who discovered Jessie hanging in her bedroom.
I’m using this news story as a base for voicing my own concerns about our young people and the challenges they face in this increasingly knotty and convoluted society. I am raw with grief, anyway, and feel compelled to bring this issue to your attention. As parents and grandparents–as citizens of this bewildering world–we must be ever mindful of our children; attentive and hawk-eyed. The degree of watchfulness that served well prior generations is not enough today. Extreme vigilance must be our mantra; courage and grit our formula as we guide our children through these perilous days.