From The Grio — Sixteen-year-old Dewayne never asks teen girls at his Bronx high school to send him naughty pictures of them scantily clad or nude but they do.
“Girls just walk up to me, start a conversation, ask for my cell phone number and it’s on,” said Dewayne, who is handsome and athletic.
According to a recent survey on the parental control website parentalcontrolapps.com 20% of all teens are sexting; 22% of girls and 18% of boys. Sexting includes sending and receiving sexual photos and text messages. It’s sex and written text colliding in a technology driven society and dubbed “sexting” that has young people moving into fast paced relationships that leave little left to the imagination.
“Girls are very aggressive these days, worse than boys, we don’t have to work hard at all to get a date,” Dewayne said.
Psychologist Dr. Jeffrey Gardere said there are many girls who want to be “too sexy too soon” and they use cell phones, computers, and iPods to be aggressive. Gardere said tweens and teenage girls who participate in sexual behavior choose to hide behind a veil, instead of interacting socially because the veil allows them to say things they wouldn’t normally say and then hide.
Morgan, a 17-year-old high school senior at a prestigious New York City private school, said with the new age of technology girls are willing to put themselves out there in order to get noticed.
“Appearance has become more of a vital factor in dating and girls want to show their stuff,” said Morgan, who commutes to school from her home in South Orange, NJ. ”I have a lot of friends who have texted pictures to guys to get their attention and the outcome hasn’t always been good.”
Quincy, a 16-year-old sophomore who lives in Marietta, Georgia, said sexual images are everywhere, but young girls should have more self-respect.
“There are girls at my school who send naked pictures of themselves to boys,” said Quincy. “I like pretty girls just as much as the next guy, but I don’t think it’s attractive for a girl to be reckless and exploit herself by acting out sexually.”
At his school, Quincy said the issue of sexting has landed on the pages of the school newspaper after two teens made a sex video and it ended up on the internet.
“Tweens and teens in general are more assertive when it comes to dating because of some the images they see,” said Gardere. “The media promotes sexuality very early and technology gives this generation of teens unprecedented access to each other.”
“Teen girls are trying to get the attention of boys when they send out nude pictures, sexual text messages, emails and make inappropriate comments on Facebook. Most times, these girls are acting out sexually because they suffer from low self-esteem and want to achieve popularity.”
Fourteen-year-old Crystal, of the Bronx, said most girls who send sexual photos and texts are just trying to be cool and blend in with the crowd. She said there is a lot of peer pressure to be popular and many girls and boys fall into the trap because they are afraid to say no.
“I have never done it and will never do it because I don’t have to,” said Crystal. “I like who I am, I am cool with everyone and I don’t need that kind of attention. There are some girls who don’t get enough love and attention at home so they try to get it from boys and boys will like them more, but that’s not always the case.”
With sexting on the rise, parents, school officials, law enforcement agencies and legislators are scrambling to deal with the issue. Nationwide, teens have been arrested and charged with possession of child pornography for having copies of the lewd photos on their cell phones and computers. A recent New York Times article chronicled a story about a 14-year-old girl who took a nude picture of herself, sent it to her boyfriend, he sent it to another student and it set off an extensive email blast of the photo. According to the story, the boyfriend and two other students were arrested, but the girl who initially sent the picture was not.
New York State Senator Eric Adams (D-Brooklyn) said law enforcement officials, legislators, educators and the technology community we have to work together to find solutions to handle this problem keep children safe.
“Child pornography laws were not designed to arrest kids for sending and receiving nude pictures of their boyfriend or girlfriend,” said Adams. It’s definitely a complicated scenario where normal juvenile mischief collides with the internet and modern technology and turns into a major problem.”
Kevin Quinn, spokesman for the National Association of School Resource Officers and Phoenix, Arizona Police Officer assigned to a public school, said there are so many kids who are sexting willingly that it’s hard to get a handle on the situation.