The downward spiral of Amanda Todd began when she sent a photo of her breasts to a man she didn’t know. That photo went viral and Amanda was soon the target of verbal, physical and cyber bullying. When she couldn’t take it any longer, Amanda ended her life.
Amanda’s end began with sexting. Most people have heard about sexting, but some don’t realize how serious the consequences can be. According to a report from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unwanted Pregnancy, “one in five teen girls (22%)—and 11% of teen girls ages 13-16 years old—say they have electronically sent, or posted online, nude or semi-nude images of themselves. . . . ”
If caught, young people can be charged with possession and dissemination of child pornography and may have to register as sex offenders for life. And, too often, the photos are shared and available on the Internet indefinitely. According to the same report quoted above, “One-third (33%) of teen boys and one-quarter (25%) of teen girls say they have had nude/semi-nude images—originally meant to be private—shared with them.” This public exposure can trigger peers to bully, taunt, and shun. All because of one impulsive act.
Enter my young adult novel Sexted!, a cautionary tale told with humor and a hint of romance.
Finn McCarthy and Josh Hadley feel like typical tenth-grade übergeeks who don’t really stand out or fit in . . . until the day Finn is texted a racy photo from an anonymous female with the tantalizing proposition: Wan 2 c mor?
Feeling flattered, confused, excited, and nervous, Finn seeks the counsel of his best friend, Josh, and together they attempt to unravel the why and—most importantly—the who of this enticing message.
This task proves difficult, yet it’s an intoxicating escape from the difficulties both boys face at home. Finn’s mom is an alcoholic and his dad seems to accept her destructive behavior as status quo. Josh and his sister, Paige, are children of divorce living with a mom who is always working, and an absentee dad who has news that will change their lives forever.
While unraveling the mystery of these seductive texts, both Finn and Josh must face their demons and desires—and decide which risks are truly worth taking.
If you know a young person who might be tempted to send a photo of his or her private parts winging through the ether, suggest he or she read this book, available now in digital format on Amazon, and coming soon in print. A sneak peek is available on the Amazon site. Check it out. It just might save a life.
Praise for SEXTED!:
“Titillation and trauma, crushes and consequences…Coombs gets it so right.” — Deborah Halverson, editor, and author of Honk If You Hate Me and Big Mouth (YA), and WRITING YOUNG ADULT FICTION FOR DUMMIES.
“Karen Coombs, yet again, tackles a hot topic from the perspective and authentic voice of today’s teens. With genuine characters and authentic emotion, she reveals how seemingly innocent curiosity can lead to damaging consequences.”