Not that my blessing carries a lot of weight, but a Rochester Institute of Technology study of more than 40,000 adolescents in the New York area specifically acknowledges in its report that cyberabuse and offending can include “Sending sexual messages or solicitations for sex that are unwanted by recipients” (p. 7). Aha! Someone who explicitly states in a research document that youth send harassing messages that are sexual in nature to other youth! This is not a generic “cyberbullying” study, nor is it a concern for “stranger danger” and creepy adults. It’s youth being sexual (in a negative way) towards other youth. And it is a problem, which they say begins in middle school (though one school district’s children said it began in 2nd grade).
In addition, key findings from the 7th-9th grade sample include:
14% had “communicated online with someone about sexual things”
3% admitted to asking someone for a nude picture
3% admitted to soliciting sexual chat
And 15% of older high schoolers said they engaged in sexual chat. And one in four had been asked about sexual things online.
The “big surprise” is that most of this sexual communication is among peers. A small minority (15%) said that sexual communication occured between them and an adult. Now, 15% is by no means zero, but the bulk is friend-to-friend and peer-to-peer.
Hopefully, data like these can be used to inform educators, parents, and even legislators about where our priorties should lie. And, to me, that is in beefing up the material in our sex education curricula. Ah, I am so good at my one-note tune.