The stories never stop coming from the news media involving sick pedophiles and innocent children. This week in Broward County Florida a 21-year-old male working as a childcare monitor at the Pine Lakes Elementary School is under investigation and in jail because he has been sexually texting three male students from the school.
Apparently, George Francis wrote sexually inappropriate material to the boys through their online social networking MySpace pages, in addition to texting and sending pornographic pictures of his private member. The one boy, who received this sexually explicit text picture, also received a message asking him to reciprocate in like fashion. George Francis offered to pay the boy money if he sent a similar picture back to him. He was also attempting to arrange a meeting with one or both of the other 12-year-old boys.
This story is for all the parents who do not think they need to follow up and monitor their son or daughter because their child is a good kid. As evidenced by this story and the numerous stories in the daily media, innocent boys and girls are falling for the lures of sexual perverts. Sexting is a whole issue with today’s generation that we have not had to face in previous generations. The amount of freedom our children ultimately have with television, computers, music, and video games is frightening. Do you have cable? Does your child have unsupervised access to the internet? What video games is your preteen or teen playing at home or with a friend? Do you listen to the music your child is absorbing 24 hours a day?
Right now many of you reading this article will be saying...not my child…Thankfully this does not apply to my son… or my daughter. I am trying to refrain from being very cynical but if you have a preteen or teen, this story does apply to you…period. At the very least check, that your child knows what information is appropriate to give to someone online or while texting. Tell them directly and in plain words what is not appropriate, and why it is not appropriate.
Sexting is leading to child pornography charges being assigned to students who are sending revealing pictures of themselves to friends or significant others. It is possible that what many would call innocent boy and girl flirting through texting may now lead to one or both and teens being labeled for like as a child sex offender. Sexting is not a joke.
The problem with MySpace pages and cell phones are that they are essentially private and forgotten about unless a parent gets a bad vibe or happens to open a cell phone and find a sexually explicit picture. As parents, we need to be addressing these issues with our children before they fall victim by sending out sexually explicit information that may forever haunt them in cyberspace.
Parents may believe his or her child would never do that kind of thing, but in reality money and love are both very strong factors for people doing something they may never have done otherwise.
Talk to and educate your children about respecting themselves first and to ask a grown up if something does not feel right when someone is asking them to do something. Education is the best prevention.