Would A “Sexting 101” Class Help Keep Teens From Doing It?


Could taking a class clear up questions teens have about sexting and its consequences? Source: Shutterstock

I’ll just come right out and say it: sexting is not a good idea. As soon as that picture is taken, control over what happens to it can quickly slip out of your hands. That’s scary stuff.

Now an “online diversion course” is being offered through the Utah-based website CourtEducationOnline.com. The class sets out to educate teens about sexting consequences and prevent it in the future.

A little legal backstory: in Utah, it is a misdemeanor for teens to sext one another. Students at one Utah high school took this online class, and afterward it was revealed that 90 percent of the students didn’t know that sexting was against the law prior to this. Yikes!

Believe me, I’m not blaming these students. With something like sexting – a relatively new phenomenon – it’s tricky for a teen to navigate it alone. I’m not surprised that many of these students didn’t know the law in their state, but at the same time, that wouldn’t really be an excuse if they were to get in trouble for it.

From what I can tell, this online class is applicable to Utah laws (remember, laws about sexting in your state could be different). According to the course topics for “Cell Phone Safety and Texting,” this class covers things like “laws and legal implications of sexting” and “review of real-life case studies.”

This all sounds really valuable to me. I like being informed and proactive, and acting like something doesn’t exist is in my opinion a surefire way to make sure it keeps happening. My one issue with this class is that as a diversion program, it seems targeted primarily toward students who have already run into trouble with sexting. To me, that just seems like mainly dealing with a problem once it has already caused a problem.

Yes, this intervention could prevent from sexting again in the future, but maybe that teen’s sexting has already had social consequences which can’t just be erased with taking a class. I just wonder if there’s a way to make this kind of program more widely available than it seems to be now so it is even more of a preventative educational measure.

I can perhaps see the fear that teens would use this kind of course as a way to find loopholes in the legal system so that they could still sext without getting in “trouble.” I guess though, I just like to think that when presented with all the information out there, teens won’t approach it that way. In addition to laws, the class also reiterates social consequences and loops parents into the conversation.

It seems promising to have everyone working together to get on the same page moving forward and taking such a well-rounded approach to educating people about sexting. I am curious to see if other states adopt it and tailor it to their states, and if this becomes a go-to method of educating teens about sexting and its consequences. Anyone else?

Do you think classes like this would keep teens from continuing to sext? Do you think a program like this should be put in place before teens even get in legal trouble? Do you feel like you are informed about the laws around sexting in your state? Tell us in the comments!

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