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How should we talk to our children about sexting?

As a director, writer and producer of pornography (and a feminist!), I’ve always seen a great deal of importance in giving my two young daughters a healthy and open education when it comes to sex. I want my daughters to grow up to enjoy and embrace their sexuality. Just like how I don’t want them to eat fast food or smoke, I don’t want them to watch bad chauvinistic porn and grow up with a warped, unhealthy opinion about gender and sexuality. Recently I’ve begun to think about how, as they get older, I’ll tell them about the job I do and address the topic of sexual desires that all young people inevitably have.

Photo via Tumblr
Photo via Tumblr

With the increasing accessibility that comes with smart phones and the internet, my daughters would eventually come across Mommy’s work anyway. And this got me thinking about the latest trend in the virtual world of young peoples sexual exploration – sexting.

Photo via Pro Juventute
Photo via Pro Juventute

A study conducted in 2012 in Texas showed that 28% of 948 high school students, aged 14 to 19, admitted sending nude images or sexually explicit language via text. 57% of these students (predominantly girls) had also been asked to send nude images. It’s hardly surprising that in an age when young people have so much access to cell phones and the web, that they would use this as a tool for expressing their newly emerging and powerful sexual desires. But can this be dangerous?

Photo by Nate Walton
Photo by Nate Walton

I’ve spoken about revenge porn before and I’m very aware of the risk that comes with sending a nude image. Only around 12 states in the US have laws against third parties sharing naked images on certain sites, but overall, it’s still hard to have a legal right to your own image and it’s even harder to avoid the victim blaming that arises in these situations. So whats the answer? As with most things, my opinion is that when it comes to human sexual desire, it’s always better to educate than regulate! We can’t always anticipate our children doing things like sexting, but we can prepare them for any outcome by giving them the information and education to make the right choices. We have to positively encourage our children’s sexual desires and educate them about the consequences these actions have. Even healthy expressions of sexuality can be met with judgement, punishment and humiliation that can lead to fear and shame, and that’s not what I want my kids to associate with sex! Let’s talk to our kids about sexuality and all its positives! Let’s educate them about the numerous and varied ways in which they can express it! If our kids grow up to respect themselves and each other (and each others sexuality) then maybe we change a potentially dangerous situation.

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