Is your child sexting? What you need to know. [, Stacey Pinno, 22/4/2015]

Statistics show boys and girls as young as 10-years-old are sexting.

“In the middle school we will get comments from 6th graders say things like ‘my boyfriend is pressuring me for sex, how do I know he really likes me?,” said Stacey Kiser, the Rape Crisis Educator at Coastal Horizon Center.

However, it’s not just boys sending pictures to girls, statistics show both genders are sexting at the same rate.

Kiser explained kids usually start by sending suggestive text messages back and forth, but with the influence of the internet, those messages sometimes progress into kids sending nude photos to each other.

“They are on Facebook,  they are on twitter, and people are posting sexy pictures, and then they are getting requests for sex from their friends so it’s just really all around us.” Kiser explained. “Our society has become really sexualized.”

Smart phone app’s like Kik, Snapchat and Tinder all give their users access to rate, post and send pictures back and forth. According, those are just a few of the app’s that are considered some of the most dangerous apps for kids.

So Tammy Brown, a mother of five, has taken matters into her own hands.

“My phone provider has a great program set up that if my child makes a phone call after a certain hour, or sends picture messages or texts it sends me an email every day calculating what happened,” explained Brown.

So app’s like Yik Yak, Snapchat, Vine, and even just the good ole fashion text, Brown keeps a close eye.

“Don’t just give them free range of something, and if you see something strange or different, act upon it,” she said.

Kiser also advised all parents to have “the talk” with their kids the day they get a cell phone.

“The great thing is you would have already set those rules, and even if the kid is like ‘What? Who is going to send me a picture of themselves?’ They’ve got that in their head,” she said. “Then as they get older you can really say to them in the car one day to school ‘I watched this news article about sexing, and I know we have talked about that before, but as you’ve gotten older do you know your friends are doing this?’ So I think the time to talk to them is when they get a cell phone.”

If you have questions on how to prevent your child from sexting, Coastal Horizons Center and New Hanover County Schools Family Education are teaming up to have “the talk” with parents.

The program, entitled “The Birds, The Bees, and Sexting: Update,” invites parents and caretakers of children under 18 to come and discover how to overcome challenges surrounding the discussion of sexuality.

Parents will also learn tools to prevent sexual abuse, and learn what information children need to know, and when they need to know it.

The discussion starts Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. at Roland Grise Middle School.