One in every 3 girls
One in every 5 boys
will be sexually abused before they turn 18!
Today’s teens are considered the very tail end of the Millennials. They are described by The Pew Research Center as more racially tolerant and diverse, more tech savvy and “connected” socially than previous generations. They are also more likely to say they are close to their parents, though they reject their parents’ and others’ religious and political views in record numbers.
They are also the first generation, ever, to grow up having social media as a constant, regular presence in their lives. This generation had social media available to them from late school age years through adolescence. What does that exposure do to the already staggering statistics about sexual abuse? How does cyber bullying, sexting, and on line perpetrators affect our teens? Experts agree that managing technology and social media has become the top challenge American teen’s face, along with drugs and alcohol.
70 % of teen TV shows contain sexual content. And that doesn’t even consider that most teens are watching adult shows anyway!
U.S. children spend 7 hours and more a day with various types of often-sexually explicit media, including music, movies, television shows, magazines and the Internet.
To 57 % of American adolescents between the ages of 14 and 16, the media is their greatest source of sexual information
Children are being exposed to porn as young as age 8! Even if they are not looking up porn, seeking porn, they find inappropriate ads accidentally, without intent. They may type in a wrong word and be taken to sites that are disturbing images. They may innocently type in a word like, “boob” and get a far more graphic image than they are developmentally ready to handle.
60% of girls who had sex before the age of 15 were coerced by males averaging 6 years their senior. It is easier and easier for girls to meet older men. They talk on line. They get braver and bolder, because they are not interacting face to face. They are victims of grooming because they feel flattered and excited and grown up. They feel they are special. And once they are together in person, they have no experience or tools to say no. The relationship has advanced so far; they feel they were brave enough to say things, and they should now be brave enough to do things.
1 in 5 youth received a sexual approach or solicitation over the Internet in the past year.
Teens are exposed every day to sexual pressure, innuendos, and graphic images.
The hours of sexual content they see, hear and feel, the graphic images and videos seen accidentally or on purpose, and the casual sharing of nude or semi nude photos is abusive. These teens did not consent to and CAN NOT consent to this exposure. They act like they can handle it. They try to handle it. They work really hard to look cool, act cool and be cool about it. They are being coerced by media exposure to be cool with it. Developmentally they are not ready.
What can you do?
- Talk. Be willing to talk about ads on TV. Be open about a scene in a movie and share your values. Explain the ideas and thoughts you would want your teen to have before being in that situation. Help them understand how healthy vs. unhealthy relationships form. Talk candidly and openly. If you don’t, their friends will.
- Teach. Teach your child to expect their own safety. Teach them to speak up to their partner, you, or someone else if they are uncomfortable. Teach them that feeling uncomfortable is OK and it means stop what you are doing. They do not have to be bold and brave and push themselves to do things they have been told by media that they should be doing. They get to decide. Not social media.
- Empower. Empower your teen to speak up for themselves, and for others. Empower them to set standards for themselves and hold their friends to the same standard. They don’t have to act cool or pretend they think what a friend is doing is cool. That friend may be looking for someone to tell them to stop too! They have the power to change the message social media has been sending their whole lives!
- Implement. Implement safety in your home and on all devices your teen uses. Find ways to stop ads on your computer as soon as you bring your new baby home! It is as important as or more important than locking cabinets and putting in outlet covers. Do not let your small children, toddler children or taller than you children see images they are not ready to see. This has nothing to do with spying on your teen or not. It has nothing to do with trusting your teen or not. It has everything to do with limiting the expose to unwanted graphic images for yourself and the children in your home.
- Listen. Listen to your gut. If you think they are on the computer too often, taking a device to their bedroom, doing something you don’t like with social media access, trust your judgment. Slow them down. Be willing to listen to what they are trying to tell you. Perhaps they have an online boyfriend. Listen. Look for warning signs they may not see or recognize. Listen for the clues. Listen for their subtle pleas for help.
National Sexual Violence Resource Center http://www.nsvrc.org/