Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Perils of Sexting

I recently gave a Confirmation retreat (with the help of a DRE) and one of the things I asked permission to speak about was sexting. Now this is a different world we live in, because years ago there wasn't even such a word, no less an action such as sexting. But given that there was a front page article in the New York Times a couple of months ago about the perils and problems associated with sexting, I thought it was important to bring up the subject. Young people don't realize that sexting can be a crime, depending on the age of those involved, it can fall under child pornography laws. I framed the talk emphasizing how important it is to stay on the right path in life, to avoid temptation and sin. I mentioned how the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the graces received in the sacraments and the anointing at Confirmation (and of course prayer), helps to strengthen us to make the right decisions in life.
I spoke about the NY Times article. I even brought it with me to show them that when the Times devotes a front page and two other full pages to a news subject, it's usuallly important, very important. Perhaps you saw the article, it's certainly worth reading. They were very interested in the story. They wanted to know the age of the young girl who made a big mistake and used poor judgment by sending a revealing photograph of herself to her boyfriend. Well, it didn't end there because he sent it to someone else (after they broke up), and that girl sent it to many of her friends. Before long, the photograph was everywhere in her town and elsewhere. It's a sad story of a reputation being ruined in minutes......They weren't surprised by the story. They've heard similiar stories. They shared with me that they knew children (preteens and teens) who are sexting, who have been in trouble for it. It's going on in schools and in homes and it's a big problem, though many young people think it's no big deal. But it is a very big deal and the students were very receptive to my message. I told them something they already knew, the mere pressing of a send button on a phone or a computer can destroy someone's reputation (even their own) in minutes. There are serious consequences to sexting, it's no joke.
Those Confirmandi understood what I was saying to them and they appreciated my blunt talk. It was straight-forward and clear--listen to Jesus' words, stay on the right path in life, avoid evil and sin and self-defeating, destructive behavior. God wants us to have fullness of life and that's why the Bible is filled with wise sayings, wisdom, and commandments to follow. Ultimately, it's all for our own good. Lying never works, lying is sinful and they know that.
Straight talk for kids living and growing up in New York City. They knew what I was saying was the truth. They got it and I was grateful for that. I prayed for them on the day of their Confirmation that the Holy Spirit would descend upon them in a powerful, transformative way and give them courage and strength for the journey of life and the challenges they'll face as a Christian.