The Sophistication and Stupidity of Sexting.

by Leslie Morgan Steiner


On a leafy green street in suburban Bethesda, Maryland, there’s a friendly redbrick building. My son’s AAU basketball team held practice there two nights a week for a year, so I knew Thomas W. Pyle Middle School before I read about it in the Washington Post recently. Plus two girls from my son’s private school left to attend Pyle three years ago. It’s in their neighborhood and they wanted to be able to walk to school and be with their local friends. Pyle’s education is arguably just as nurturing and stimulating as our kids’ expensive private school, and it feeds into Walt Whitman High School, an Honorable Mention on US News and World Report’s “America’s Best High Schools”.


So I was stunned to read in the Post that kids at Pyle have been sending and receiving nude or nearly nude photos of female classmates via text message – or “sexting.” Other Pyle students allegedly PAID to view the photos. In some states, this counts as child pornography, even though, in this case at least, the girls apparently posed willingly.


How could such young kids – 6th, 7th, and 8th graders – be so technologically sophisticated and simultaneously stupid? How can middle school have changed so radically in 30 years that girls WANT boys to see them naked? As a middle school girl myself, my greatest terror was being dragged into the boys’ bathroom – fully clothed. I had nightmares about not wearing underwear to school. I would have thrown myself into a sewer before I willingly shared a nude photo of my private self with classmates.


This disconnect is just more evidence of the technology divide between our childhood and our children’s daily reality.