The digital age has made it increasingly tough to parent. I read with horror this article a friend posted a link to on Facebook: Sex Before Kissing: How 15 Year Old Girls Are Dealing With Porn-Addicted Boys. I thought/hoped this was a big problem more in Australia than here, because the writer is talking about Australian kids in the article.
However, one of the comments made by another friend on Facebook made it clear this happens here in the US also, which is just awful.
"As someone who taught in CMS for 10 years I cannot tell you how heartbreakingly on point this is. I have taught multiple girls who ended up on sex tapes their first time having sex with someone they thought "cared" about them, girls who believe a blow job or sex really is no big deal with no emotional consequences, girls who had several abortions or miscarriages by the time they were sophomores (that's 15 or 16 years old, people!), and girls who were endlessly harassed with sexual innuendo because of how they were holding a pencil or how they tilted their heads back when they laughed. Girls on my softball team were getting nude photo after nude photo of boys asking them to have sex with them. It breaks my heart to see this and to see so many parents completely oblivious to what their kids are going through on a DAILY basis".
From the article: "Sexual bullying and harassment are part of daily life for many girls growing up as a part of this digital generation. Young girls are speaking out more and more about how these practices have links with pornography—because it’s directly affecting them." / "If there are still any questions about whether porn has an impact on young people’s sexual attitudes and behaviors, perhaps it’s time to listen to young people themselves. Girls and young women describe boys pressuring them to provide acts inspired by the porn they consume routinely. Girls tell of being expected to put up with things they don’t enjoy."
The article reports that very young girls are under terrible pressure to have sex with boys who view them as only objects.
A few years ago I was absolutely stunned when I heard one of my son's friends, who was about 15 years old, had taken a photo of his penis and sent it to a girl he wanted to date. I couldn't believe it, but I know it was true. Nice boy. Nice family. Educated, decent parents. Totally stunned that he would do something like that.
Not long before that, maybe a year or two before, when my daughter was in high school, she told me something that shocked me. She said that during a power outage one of the boys had wanted her to go in the back of a classroom and have sex there. She refused. She was a pretty girl. I thought the boy must have just been some low-life from a terrible home. I was rather shocked he went to that high school though; we bought the house where we live because we had heard that the high school was one of the best in Atlanta. It was, at one time. I wouldn't say that now, unfortunately.
I had totally forgotten about both of those incidents until I read this article and I realized, this sort of bullying of girls by boys DOES happen here in America, every day, and something needs to be done to remedy it.
I don't know what, though.
I'm not an educator and I don't have kids in the public schools any more.
How things have changed. When I was in 9th grade I remember a whispered conversation on the school bus about a girl that had been in middle school in my class and who became pregnant at 14, and dropped out of school. She wasn't a friend. I have no idea what became of her or the baby. I was totally shocked to hear about the pregnancy, though. I didn't know anyone who was having sex with boys as a 14 or 15 year old. All the girls I knew were too busy with school and sports and church activities.
Then again, we didn't have access to thousands of porn videos.
It's shockingly easy for teens to go on porn websites now and see things that would stun most parents. Parents are seldom aware, I don't think, of the dangers of giving kids access to the internet, unchecked. Or perhaps they simply don't think they can really effectively monitor it. Even if your child has no access to porn on his/her devices at home, it's likely some of their friends have parents who don't care. Short of moving to the middle of nowhere, living off the grid where there is no internet or WiFi access, there's probably little that can be done.
People in my kids' age group [15-25] are generally much more immune to being shocked than I was at those ages. Comedies like We're the Millers or Sisters reference sex acts very casually. Sex is everywhere - in jokes [see Trainwreck] outfits on celebrities, TV comedies, movies, YouTube videos. It's EVERYWHERE. It has to be tough for most teens to avoid it, unless they are homeschooled.
So our teens live in a culture where sex is treated so casually, and then we are surprised when it's taken way too far? We shouldn't be.
Remember recently the outrage expressed over Brock Turner? He was convicted of raping an unconscious woman and was given a 3 month sentence. Read this article: Outrage over 6-month sentence for Brock Turner in Stanford rape case.
Turner is a symptom of a much bigger problem.
How do we protect our girls?
My daughter is grown now, and in a relationship. If I had a 15 year old daughter at home, right now, here's what I would do. First, we would have a long discussion or possibly several discussions about not giving in to boys wanting sex and pressuring her to do it. What most 15 year old girls want is love, a real relationship with someone who care about them as a person, not mechanical sex acts.
Secondly, I would do my best to get her into martial arts classes, so she could defend herself against anyone trying to rape her. I would buy her pepper spray to keep in her purse. I would tell her to stop all contact with any boy who sent her a nude photo.
I would also go to the school and RAISE HELL.
Would any of it do any good? I don't know. All I know is this: every parent in America needs to read Sex Before Kissing and find out what's going on with their child[ren] so they can to re-educate the boys about the dangers of porn, and warn the girls and try to help them avoid doing sexual things they don't want to do.
I honestly don't think there is a "safe place" any more, unfortunately. Really, the only way to reverse these dangerous patterns is for parents to really get involved and monitor their kids closely. Talk to them about what's okay and what's not. Pay attention to what they say. Get them involved in sports and church activities. Keep them busy. Listen without judgment and then get them the help they need, if you find out they are a victim or a victimizer.
I do not want to imagine what will happen if parents DON'T pay attention and reverse this trend.