The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) in the UK recently published the results of a survey about sexting they conducted this year. They were inspired to find out what parents know about sexting by the enormous number of people who visit their sexting advice webpage.
NSPCC conducted both in person surveys and online questionnaires Here is what they found.
Most parents in the UK (73%) think that sexting is always harmful but only 39% thought that their child would engage in the behavior. Many parents did not know that underage sexting (taking or sending naked pictures) was illegal.
The good news is that most parents would seek out help if they found out their child was sexting. The BAD news is that only half of the parents thought they would be able to find the right support.
Parents are STILL not talking to their children about sexting. This survey showed that only 42% of parents had spoken to their child about sexting once. Unfortunately, 19% of parents had no intention of ever talking to their child about the issue. Parents appeared to be most uncomfortable about conversations relating to sexting and the law.
A positive take away from this survey is that despite the 83% of parents who have never received any information about sexting, and the 84% of parents who never looked for the information, 50% of the parents did actually want more information. Parents are looking for information about healthy relationships, how to start conversations with their child about sexting as well as how young people experience sexting in their peer group.
As someone who works in this field, it is still discouraging that so many parents have not talked to their child about sexting and it is even more discouraging that they don’t have good information at their fingertips. With news articles about sexting scandals and teens popping up in the news on a daily basis, the denial of parents that their own child might engage in this behavior is alarming.
This survey is the exact reason why I wrote my new book, The New Age of Sex Education: How to Talk to Your Teen About Cybersex and Pornography in the Digital Age. Without knowing it (or taking my cues from the headlines) my book addresses the stated learning needs of these parents. It would be helpful to parents and children alike if schools and communities started to educate parents about these issues on a regular basis, providing parents with the resources they both need and desire.