Have the ‘sext’ talk with your kids

Lesotho Times - - Health -

IT’S called sex­ting, the act of send­ing and/or re­ceiv­ing sex­u­ally ex­plicit text or photo mes­sages via your mo­bile phone. And one in five Amer­i­can mid­dle school-aged stu­dents are do­ing it, ac­cord­ing to a new study pub­lished in the med­i­cal jour­nal Pe­di­atrics.

Among the 1 285 Los An­ge­les stu­dents aged 10 to 15 sur­veyed for the study, 20 per­cent re­ported hav­ing re­ceived at least one sext, while 5 per­cent re­ported hav­ing sent at least one sext.

“Very fre­quently it’s the im­age or the sex, that is find­ing its way to the mid­dle scholar first, prior to any sort of con­ver­sa­tion or ed­u­ca­tion” by par­ents, said Ian Kerner, a sex­u­al­ity coun­sel­lor and fa­ther to two boys. “That makes it even more con­fus­ing (for kids).”

The study au­thors also looked at how sex­ting re­lates to sex­ual be­hav­iour among th­ese ado­les­cents. The survey showed that those who re­ported re­ceiv­ing a sext, were six times more likely to re­port be­ing sex­u­ally-ac­tive than teens who hadn’t re­ceived a sext. Those who sent a sext were about 4 times more likely to re­port be­ing sex­u­ally ac­tive.

The re­searchers also found that those who sext were more likely to re­port hav­ing un­pro­tected sex. While the study does not of­fer an ex­pla­na­tion for the link - Are sex­ting teens sim­ply more likely to ad­mit to their sex­ual ac­tiv­ity? Does sex­ual ac­tiv­ity lead to sex­ting or vice versa? - the au­thors do elab­o­rate on the re­la­tion­ship be­tween sex­ting and sex­ual be­hav­iours.

Kerner, who was not in­volved in the re­search, sug­gests par­ents try to re­mem­ber the con­fu­sion over sex they ex­pe­ri­enced as teens, and then imag­ine go­ing through it again in the dig­i­tal age.

“I think that tech­nol­ogy def­i­nitely acts as an am­pli­fier. If you think about pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions, it was much harder to ac­cess, much less share, sex­ual im­agery,” Kerner said.

Pre­vi­ous re­search has shown that hav­ing sex ear­lier in life can lead to risky sex­ual be­hav­iours, such as en­gag­ing with mul­ti­ple part­ners, teenage preg­nancy and sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted in­fec­tions.

A pol­icy state­ment re­cently re­leased by the Amer­i­can Academy of Pe­di­atrics says that the preva­lence rates of many sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted in­fec­tions are high­est among ado­les­cents. The sec­ond-high­est rates for chlamy­dia and gon­or­rhea, for ex­am­ple, are in fe­males 15 to 19 years old.

The study au­thors say par­ents should have the “sex­ting” con­ver­sa­tion with their child as soon as he or she is given a mo­bile phone.

“Most kids by mid­dle school will have a cell phone or reg­u­lar ac­cess to one, and many will send mul­ti­ple, if not hun­dreds, of texts each day,” said Dr. Yolanda Evans, a board cer­ti­fied pe­di­a­tri­cian in the di­vi­sion of ado­les­cent medicine at Seat­tle Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal.

Kerner says par­ents play a big role in how kids deal with sex - as mid­dle schol­ars and as adults.

“I feel like the in­for­ma­tion age, the dig­i­tal age, pornog­ra­phy – it’s all here to stay... And I don’t think the right at­ti­tude is to just pre­tend it’s not there,” he said. “The thing that we need to do as par­ents and ed­u­ca­tors is help our kids de­velop healthy sex­ual iden­ti­ties and pat­terns and choices.” — CNN

The re­searchers also found that those who sext were more likely to re­port hav­ing un­pro­tected sex.

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