In the news recently is the story of a 14-year-old girl in New Jersey who may be prosecuted for disseminating child pornography because she was using her cell phone to transmit nude pictures of a minor. Herself.
Apparently this is a trend, although because of its sensationalism and novelty it might still be a relatively small problem hyped into a national crisis. Teenagers are not yet adults, and they often suffer from an insufficient supply of oxygenated blood to the brain. It probably never dawned on the sexters that once these images go out electronically into cyberspace, they are indestructible and, of course, impossible to manage or control.
More serious is the story of the arrest of a 35-year-old man in a Milwaukee suburb who is accused of injecting a 16-year-old girl with heroin and then dumping her unconscious body on a neighbor’s lawn. Thank God she’s still alive. The man, if convicted, faces a very long prison sentence. But even more disturbing to me are indications that the girl had first gone to him and asked for the heroin.
I have four children, ages 15-21. The above stories terrify me. They are painful reminders that teenagers can have secret lives in the “adult” world to which their parents are oblivious. Teenagers often assume that their parents would never understand their lives, and so it is pointless to talk about their problems.
These stories also reveal how miserable must be the spirits of many teens, who feel compelled to turn to such risky behaviors to feel better about themselves. Could my own kids be living double lives?
I wish I had some easy, sure-fire answers. All I can do is listen always, engage in their lives as much as they let me, bring as much of God’s Word into their lives as I can, and show unconditional love to them in word and deed.
Do you have any advice for me?
Straight talk. Real hope.