So believe me when I say, when it comes to sons, I’ve seen it all.
Still, there’s one thing that never gets easier, that’s seeing them fall in and out of love and having to deal with all the challenges in between.
One of my boys was a freshman in high school when he fell hard for another girl in his class.
Let’s call her… Bunny.
Before you can say “high school romance,” I was driving the two lovebirds to the local movie theater. I felt like a low-class limo driver in my mom-van as the two smooched in the back seat all the way to the mall. But as I watched the show in the rear view mirror, I was proud of my boy for keeping his hands in sight at all times and treating Miss Bunny with respect.
Innocent enough, so far, but this phase did introduce us to a whole new world of boy-girl interactions. He had older brothers around at the time, so they were the first ones I accused when I found a condom (still in its wrapper, thank God), in the front yard. None of the older boys fessed up, but Beau Romeo said, “Oh, that’s Bunny’s.” Sitting him down for a stern talking to about 14 being a way-too tender age to engage in anything as serious as sex, I was less than thrilled with his blasé attitude about the condom issue.
“Bunny’s mom got pregnant when she was a teenager and she doesn’t want her to mess up her life,” he said. “Every time we go anywhere, she shoves a condom at Bunny.”
Weird mom behavior if you ask me. But Bunny’s mom should have been much more concerned about what I discovered on my boy’s computer one day when browsing around. We have computer rules in place at our home, such as having it located in the dining room where everyone walking by can have a peek at what you are up to. And, all of our seven sons know that Mom and Dad will be checking up on where they’ve been on the Internet. No porn for us, please!
So you can imagine my horror when one day while checking into Boy Romance’s picture folder, I discovered a full-frontal nudity shot from our dear Bunny. It was T.M.I. (too much information) in the hugest sense and I felt like I wanted to scrub my eyeballs after viewing Bunny’s “assets.” Because of the content of the talk, Hubby had to take this one. Lucky him. And the chat focused on three issues that we saw with this behavior now known as “sexting:”
- Emailing sexual pictures back and forth to each other is NEVER considered proper dating technique.
- The pictures are available for anyone in our household (including our 7-year-old twins all the way up to our 25 year-old) to enjoy. Temptations like that should never be available in our household on a computer used by every young man in the house.
- “Sexting” is a crime that could land both parties (especially Bunny) in front of a grim-faced judge.
As concerned parents, both Hubby and I started doing our homework on this teen phenomenon and came up with some research recently published by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.
This report really opened our eyes to the temptations that exist and that we need to warn our young men about. When we were teens there was no such thing as an Internet, cell phones that took pictures or videos or the email technology to send suggestive photos.
If I were a parent of a young woman right now I’d be freaking out because almost three-quarters of them have sent sexually provocative photos out through the Internet. Wow.
With the knowledge that almost 90 percent of us are online (says the National Campaign) and more than 255,000,000 of us own cell phones in America, I realized that’s a LOT of pictures of nude children. So, here’s the bare bone of what we’ve told our platoon of boys about this issue:
- Sexting is illegal and will never be tolerated in our home.
- Treat girls with respect at all times. No matter if they’re three, thirty or ninety-three, girls are to be treasured. And, this especially includes their reputation.
- We will be monitoring everything you do in our house. We have full access to your computer, your email, and your cell phones. We WILL be looking at photos you have stored on all of your devices.
- If we find any inappropriate items in any device, you will lose the privilege of owning that device. (This last one is a threat worse than death.)
And what of the romance between our Dr. Love and Miss Bunny, you ask? Well it all ended as these things often do. Bunny never used the condom stash in her purse (praise be), broke off the relationship and left behind a broken-hearted boy.
*names have been shielded to protect the little devils.
Jurisdictions that are either developing or trying to enhance programs designed to implement the Sex Offender Registration Act may want to consider applying for a grant sponsored by The Office of Sex Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending and Trafficking (SMART) Support for Adam Walsh Implementation Grant Program. The Sex Offender Registration Act was put in place so it could provide a legal means to protect children from sexual exploitation and violent crime, prevent child abuse and child pornography and promote internet safety. It also helps build a comprehensive national system for the registration and notification of sex offenders.
On June 16, 2010, at 2 p.m. E.T., the Office of Justice Programs’ Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) will host a Web Forum on preventing child victimization using high tech devices, including the internet and cell phones. The session is expected to cover topics such as child pornography, sexting and cyber bullying.
The 1-hour session, which is cosponsored by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, will be led by Laurie Nathan, who manages national outreach and partnerships for the NetSmartz Workshop, an educational program of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. For further information and instructions on how to participate, visit the OVC Web Forum
–Photo courtesy of www.flickr.com/photos/angelshupe