On a listserv comprised of the top sex educators and counselors in the US, if not the world, there is an intense debate going on as to the potential harm of sexting, More specifically, the discussion revolves around a case in which a teenager (read: a legal minor) is engaging in some form of sexting (not clear from the original post) with an out-of-state adult (again, age unknown, but not a minor). The simple question posed to the listerv: What should this counselor do?
Clearly, there is no easy answer. And thus the debate. Some say it’s a form of sexual abuse. Some say it may be harmless. Some insist on contacting Child Protective Services due to the poster’s status as a mandatory reporter, while others say no as there is no clear and immediate danger. One person suggests the minor contact a rape crisis center.
Others are asking whether there are any laws to draw from. Other than ones about distributing child pornography (which potentially would only get the minor, not the adult in trouble), we come up empty.
And, as I said at the beginning of this post, this debate is going on amongst the cream of the crop experts on issues related to sexuality. If they don’t know the answer, who will? How are we going to figure out the best way to react to this situation? Because it probably happens a lot. But is a sexting relationship between a teenager and adult as potentially harmful as a face-to-face one between the same parties? An intereting question to ponder, if only it were hypothetical.