By: Staff Reports | Gwinnett Citizen
Emma’s image on a wooden plague

Gwinnett Neighborhood Leadership Institute (GNLI) Students Make Plans to Offer Sexting Resources to Parents and Teens
By Emma Reynolds-Middleton

I (Emma Reynolds-Middleton, MA) am a parent, community leader, and a concerned citizen presently attending/enrolled in the Gwinnett Neighborhood Leadership Institute (GNLI, http://www.gnli.org/). Since September 2013, my team and I have been working on a project designed to have county-wide impact.

For a Health and Wellness topic, we decided to focus our attention on sexting and the potential mental scars sexting can leave on today's adolescence. The mental scars may include low self esteem, depression, low emotional intelligence, behavioral difficulties leading to early sexual activity, and suicide.

What is sexting? It's the slang term for the use of a cell phone or other similar electronic device to distribute pictures or video of sexually explicit, including nude, images. It can also refer to text messages of a sexually-charged nature.

We will present our plan, in March 2014, to the GNLI Advisory Board. The plan is designed to be sustained well beyond the months we've spent working on our project.

We are developing an Adolescence Wellness and Sexting Prevention Program with the goals to: •Promote adolescence health and wellness through sexting awareness and prevention for youths (ages 13 to 17) in Gwinnett County
•Encourage teens to use good judgment in a world of social media and technology
•Provide information to parents and vested stakeholders in the community about youth sexting in Gwinnett County
•Provide information and resources to Gwinnett County middle and high school students regarding the problems and negative impact of sexting
•Heighten awareness of the laws related to sexting

We strongly believe that as more teens have smartphones and access to internet, sexting will likely increase. Also, various surveys, studies, and reports indicate that teen sexting is a growing concern. Therefore, we want to proactively combat sexting by compiling resources that will benefit all citizens: youths, parents, teachers, and the community at large.

We are still seeking partnership with vested stakeholders to address this issue. For more information, feel free to contact me, at reymidd@yahoo.com, to further discuss our initiative.