It’s pretty clear that kids are using sex as a form of social currency to buy and sell popularity in their confused adolescent world.

Just take a look at a recent study published in the journal Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine which found that 28 per cent of high school students had sent sexually explicit messages via their cell phones. More than half of the students surveyed had been asked for a nude photo!

But it gets worse.

Good Morning America reports, “[k]ids who sexted were more likely to be having sex, and girls who sexted were more likely to participate in risky sexual behavior, including having multiple sexual partners and using drugs or alcohol before sex.”

And why do they do this?

According to Seth Meyers, a Los Angeles-based psychologist quoted in an ABC report, “This behavior shows the power of peer pressure and the drive for girls and boys to be liked, and to do what they have to do in order to keep the other person interested.”

And here’s where he hits the nail on the head:

“This behavior plants the dangerous seed of treating your body like an object and treating sexuality as a means of fair trade rather than intimacy and respect.”

It’s obvious that kids are confused, and that’s why pornoculation is so important. Inoculate your kids with knowledge and with understanding about the dangers of pornography in any form.

First, this whole message of “safe sex” is completely wrong. There is no “safe sex” outside of a committed long-term relationship. Even if teens are protected physically from STD’s, they can be emotionally devastated. And sexting–which is a form of personal porn–is no safer!

According to Dr. Eugene Beresin, a child psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital and professor at Harvard Medical School, the consequences of sexting can also be legally devastating, with some kids risking violation of child pornography laws by posting nude photos of themselves, or passing on such photos of others. In some states, kids are placed on sex-offender registries for sexting.

Sexting can elicit cyber bullying and stalking, not to mention the devastating impact it can have on self-image, self-esteem and relationships with peers.

Beresin warns, “The consequences of a sexting message may be very difficult to undo.”

Let’s teach our children that their sexuality is a gift, not a currency.

Sexuality can bond them with someone they love, respect and are deeply committed to. It can bring unity, strength and happiness to their future marriage. But when used as a currency to buy popularity or the attention of others, it can be equally devastating with irrevocable consequences.

Kristen Jenson
Kristen A. Jenson is the founder of Protect Young Minds and author of Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today's Young Kids. Kristen enjoys speaking, writing and anything else that will help empower kids to reject pornography. Kristen earned a bachelor’s degree in English Literature, and a master’s degree in Organizational Communication. Kristen currently lives with her husband in Washington State, where she enjoys growing a vegetable garden, watching Masterpiece Theater, and taking long walks with friends who tolerate her incessant talking about you know what. Above all else, her husband and three children are her greatest treasures.