Middle Schoolers Are Sexting... And That's Not All

“Sexting” is a word we hear often when talking about teens, but also one that can be hard to talk about. We know teens spend their whole lives on their phones, and it’s hard to tell how much of the sexting-related terror is just normal teenage flirtation that’s been blown out of proportion.

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Well, according to researched gathered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Youth Risk Behavior Survey, sexually-suggestive texting might not be entirely innocent. The anonymous sample of more than 1,300 middle school students in Los Angeles found that among middle school students, 20 percent had received a sext before. And more importantly, those who had received sexts were 6 times more likely than their non-sexting peers to report being sexually active.

The study also found that teens who sent more than 100 texts per day were more likely than their peers to not only send and receive sexts, but to be sexually active as well. However, only 5 percent of students with texting-enabled cell phones said they had ever sent a sext themselves. It’s important to take these results with a certain grain of salt—these young teens are self-reporting, and not always the most reliable survey-takers. But that doesn’t mean the results aren’t serious, or don’t skew toward a potentially risky trend.

These findings can be particularly jarring coming from the middle school set, ages 10-15, but they only emphasize the need to provide sexual education and open conversation about sexual health at an even earlier age. Early sexual debut is correlated with higher rates of STIs, teen pregnancies, and risky sexual behavior – so having an open, honest, and informative conversation with your teen (or pre-teen!) is more important than ever. We know it’s awkward, but fortunately, we have a TeenBeing post to help you through it, and some facts to start you off. And after you talk, share your tips in comments below. Your teen will thank you for treating them like an adult (...someday, at least!), and other parents and educators will be able to follow your example. So go ahead—get talking!

 

Did you know that there’s a health and wellness magazine with the same great info you find on TeenBeing, but written for your teens? Click here for parents and here for teachers to subscribe to Choices, and let us kick off some of those awkward but necessary conversations for you.