Sex Ed Fails Teens By Ignoring Sexting

When Johanna Burgos asks rooms of teenagers whether they know someone who has sent a nude picture, about 90 percent of the room always raises their hand. 

“Whether they’re sending the photo or not, they know someone who is sending the photo,” she says. 

Burgos oversees a program that teaches healthy relationships at middle schools in New York City. She uses this story to illustrate one thing: Teenagers need to learn about sexting. 

But they’re not. 

American students are either not learning about sexting in the classroom at all, or the lessons they do receive don’t adequately address the wide spectrum of experiences teens may have.

There’s no comprehensive data showing the number of U.S. school districts that address sexting in sex ed, but several sex educators told Mashable that it’s uncommon, based on their experiences and conversations with school officials. 

Burgos, who works for Day One, which focuses on dating abuse and domestic violence, describes it as “hit or miss.” When she does a workshop on technology, for example, some school administrators ask her not to talk about it at all. Others want her to broach the subject because they hear that students are sending nude photos and spreading rumors. Alternatively, they want to help students figure out if it’s a healthy choice for their relationship or coercive. 

One thing is clear for sex educators, though: Avoiding the subject isn’t the right approach. 

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