Teenagers and sexting
Almost half of sexually active teens are involved in sexting -- sending explicit photos of themselves or their partners via mobile phones.
The following is a partial transcript; for full story, listen to audio
This week Facebook announced the formation of a new Safety Advisory Board to monitor online crimes, such as cyber-bullying and stalking.The people most likely to use sites like Facebook and are the most vulnerable to those crimes are teenagers.
The issue becomes even more serious when you consider the statistics. According to a new survey conducted by MTV and the Associated Press, almost half of sexually active young people report being involved in sexting, or sending nude photos of themselves or their sexual partners via cell phone.
Bryan Taylor, Unit Chief for Crimes Against Persons in the Canyon County Prosecutors Office, has seen an increase in cases of sexting among students. He estimates that his office receives 10 reports a month relating to mobile phones containing sexually explicit photos of kids. "Boys will pretend to trip on the floor and then take photos of girls up their skirts," said Taylor.
In one case, sexting and subsequent cyberbullying forced a student out of school. "The victim who sent the photos left school, was humiliated and had to find a new place to get her studies," said Taylor.
According to Amanda Lenhart, Senior Research Specialist at The Pew Research Center's The Internet and American Life Project, around 10 percent of kids say they send sexually explicit photos, and about 15 to 20 percent say they're receiving these kinds of messages on their phones.
"We are dealing with a group of people who are developing," said Lenhart. "They are experimenting, they're taking risks, they're experimenting with sexuality. You add technology into the mix and it's not particularly surprising that they're using these things that are in their pockets with them every moment of the day -- the way they mostly communicate with their friends -- to explore this other part of themselves."
Lenhart believes the technology is making much more visible, the things that have been going on for a long time in the lives of teens.
Experts say that these digital-world problems are on the rise and educating kids about them is the only way to prepare them.
"The Takeaway" is a national morning news program, delivering the news and analysis you need to catch up, start your day, and prepare for what’s ahead. The show is a co-production of WNYC and PRI, in editorial collaboration with the BBC, The New York Times Radio, and WGBH.