Opinion

In late December, the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy released the results of the first public study of the sending of nude and semi-nude pictures via cell phones or on websites. Prior to this point, there had been no real data on the extent of this behavior.

According to the study, teens and young adults, when asked by the researchers whether they personally had done certain things, answered as follows:

Teens Young Adults
(13 - 19)% (20-26)%
Sent a nude or semi-nude picture/video (of
yourself) to someone (via email, cell phone, etc.) 19 32
Posted a nude or semi-nude picture/video (of yourself)
online (like on MySpace, Facebook, in a blog, etc.) 4 7
NET sent/posted a nude or semi-nude picture/
video of yourself 20 33
Received a nude or semi-nude picture/video
from someone (of himself/herself) 31 46
Shared a nude or semi-nude picture/video with
someone other than the one(s) it was originally
meant for 14 17
Had a nude or semi-nude picture/video (originally
meant to be private) shared with me 29 32
None of these 55 38

One of the great things about being young is the feeling of individuality. Most of the time that is simply a joy to behold. The only time it is not is when it prompts a young man or woman to do something without appropriate consideration of the risks involved - for example, driving with someone who has been drinking.

Based on this data, we all need to talk with our children - as openly and honestly as possible - about the ramifications of posting or sending inappropriate pictures of themselves or others, the fact is that such pictures are unlikely to remain private and that they cannot be retrieved. What seems like a lark can have significant consequences at some point.


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