As sexting becomes more and more popular among teens today, ministry leaders are faced with new challenges to help their youth groups not fall prey to the rising trend.
Pastor Neal Benson, who serves as the pastor of discipleship at South Hills Church Community in Henderson, Nev., and has been leading students for over nine years, told The Christian Post that students often regretted their actions.
“I recall speaking with a high school sophomore (with a female leader in our presence) to discuss the pain she has felt from sexting,” Benson shared. “There is embarrassment afterward when the entire school (maybe not the whole school) has seen you naked.”
He felt that teens who were involved in sexting were usually not deeply connected with their family; otherwise they would not partake in the act.
“Sexting will continue as long as parents stay disengaged from their children,” he explained to CP. “The more and more we pull parents from the home and allow students to have unlimited freedom we will continue to see students seek our attention from other places. We have created a culture where anything goes and we are now seeing the painful regrets of that as our children are taking place in sexual behavior at an alarmingly early age.”
A survey by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and CosmoGirl.com revealed that 20 percent of teens overall – ages 13 to 16 years old – have sent or posted nude or semi-nude pictures or videos of themselves via mobile phone.
While 22 percent of girls sent or posted explicit images of themselves, 18 percent of boys acted similarly as well. Additionally, more than one-third of teens believed that exchanging sexy content made dating or hooking up with others more likely to happen.
Notably, newer research that appeared in the journal Pediatrics this month found that sexting is not as prevalent as previous studies have suggested. The research showed only 1 percent of kids aged 10 to 17 have shared images of themselves or others that involve explicit nudity.
Nevertheless, sexting among youths is still a big concern.
Benson lamented, “I think Christian students are just as involved in sexting as non-Christian students because we fail to help students draw the line. We live in the world but we are not of the world and that is a tough line to grasp ... Just because students have professed Christ it does not mean they are living for Christ.”
Both parents and the church have an important role to play, the pastor stressed.
“We have a serious lack of discipleship taking place in our culture and that begins at home,” Benson said. “Too many parents have passed off their spiritual leadership role and want nothing to do with it.”
In the same way, the church is also failing to educate their congregants, he admitted.
But change, he said, has to begin inside the home first.
“I think the best thing that we can do to alleviate the problem is to get parents involved,” he suggested.
“I really believe the problem lies in the home and the lack of parent involvement. I think believers need to approach this problem by being present when they are in the presence of their children. To turn off the cell phone, close the computer and focus on their children. Teenagers crave attention and if they do not receive that at home they will find it elsewhere.”
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