May 12, 2009 | Commentary on Sex Education and Abstinence

Sex-Ed Texting Threat to Teens

There's yet another organized effort by sex "experts" to indoctrinate your children into their worldview without your permission or knowledge. Different from "sexting," where pre-teens and teens electronically send and receive semi-nude or nude photos of themselves, "sex texting" is promoted and run by adults.

Take the new "Birds and Bees Text Line" in North Carolina. As with similar programs popping up around the nation, it offers "anonymous" sexual advice to teens through the texting feature on their cellular phones. Children can text any sex question and within 24 hours a stranger will send them back an answer.

Paid for partly with tax dollars, the owners promise frank and "nonjudgmental" answers - and secrecy from mom and dad. Marketed directly to teens through outlets like MySpace, they seek to teach your children their views about sex and sexuality without your knowledge.

Run by the benign-sounding "Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign," it's time to pull back the curtain and see who is behind this latest effort to keep parents out of the conversation with - and encourage promiscuity in - our teens. It took me about five minutes online to discover that some board members of the organization also run Planned Parenthood programs. Of course, Planned Parenthood is the largest provider of teen abortions in the nation.

Both groups - Planned Parenthood and the Campaign - proudly advocate graphic, comprehensive sex instruction for children. And they just might be secretly texting with your child right now.

The thought of a teenage girl sitting on her bed in the middle of the night texting a stranger about sex is just plain creepy. But it is maddening to know that the anonymous adult who is texting her back thinks there is nothing wrong with children having sex and that abortions are a fine way to deal with teen pregnancy.

What to do? First, remind your child that timeless safety advice applies to texting and online conversations, too: Don't talk to strangers. Secondly, make sure your children know that there are plenty of "respectable" sounding organizations that actively seek to separate children from their parents when it comes to the most intimate issues of their lives. Tell them anyone who would advocate that a 14-year-old should be able to have sex and secretly refer her to an abortion "clinic" is, in fact, dangerous.

"Sex texting" is a deliberate effort to convince our sons and daughters that nameless, faceless adults understand them better, and have greater empathy for them than do their own moms and dads.

As parents, we now have to guard our kids not just from stalkers, but also from other adults who have been granted some level of legitimacy, yet harm our kids in very different but tragic ways. Explain to your children why you have to monitor their texts: It's not them you're fighting, but rather organizations who seek to hijack their emotions and manipulate their decisions by masquerading as special and secret "friends." Explain to your children that any time an adult tells them their interaction with them is "secret," it is way past time to shut them off.

You are the first and last line of defense for your children, and you should be the one actively engaged in shaping their understanding of sexuality. Make it a priority to do so. For help, my book has two chapters that can help - one on how to support their purity and another on meaningful discussions. Another great resource is the Abstinence Clearinghouse (www.Abstinence.net), which offers materials that parents and teens can read together to support healthy, moral lives and a closer relationship.

Rebecca Hagelin is senior communications fellow for the Heritage Foundation and the author of "30 Ways in 30 Days to Save Your Family" and runs the Web site HowToSaveYourFamily.com.

About the Author

Rebecca Hagelin Senior Communications Fellow

First appeared in the Washington Times