Why are we surprised by sexting?

There are some kids at our middle school who are in trouble for sexting. Apparently a girl sent a naked picture of herself to a boy, who may have then charged other boys for a look. The adults are all appalled, saying, “What is the matter with kids these days?” There is talk of criminal charges.

And yet, what do we expect, when we bombard children with sexual images almost from the time they are born? We are living in a pornographic culture, where girls get the message that they are supposed to look sexy and show off their body. Take a look at the ads on their tv shows and in their magazines, or at almost any animated female character on cartoons or in video games. Look at the covers of all the magazines on the news stand and then look at the ads – it’s soft porn, and available to all at eye level from the time they are able to walk.

Children watch and emulate adults and their environment. We expect them to learn from us and do what we say. What are we saying to them? We are saying, through these ads that we don’t contradict: Be hot, be sexy, show off your body. And then when they do, we’re shocked? Who should be punished ? The children for doing what we say? Or us, the adults, who have failed these kids by our failure to act?

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