Cell Phone Sex Advice Bypasses Parents
Special Report - May 11, 2009
Teens in North Carolina can now use their cell phones to text anonymous questions on topics ranging from sex and condoms to sexual orientation, and receive “expert” advice within 24 hoursall without parental knowledge or consent. Launched in February 2009 by the Durham-based Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Coalition of North Carolina (APPCNC), “The Birds and Bees Text Line” is staffed by nine adults who take turns replying to text messages sent from adolescents across the state. The APPCNC promises on its web site that the text line experts “won’t judge or preach to you; you get the best advice and information we can offer free of charge. All questions are welcome and no question is too outrageous.”
The APPCNC text line was featured in a recent New York Times article entitled, “When the Cell Phone Teaches Sex Education.” According to the article, the text line was advertised by APPCNC on My Space and with flyers, and is aimed at 14 to 19 year-olds. The APPCNC allowed a New York Times reporter to view some of the anonymous questions sent from teens to the text line, as well as the answers teens received. According to the article, one of the questions from the “Birds and the Bees Text Line” included the following: “I have swores in my mouth if I go to the school nurse and have sifalce [syphilis] if I ask she cant tell my mom right.” The text line staff member answered: “The Family Educational Right to Privacy Act gives parents the right to examine their child’s health records from a school nurse. You’re better off asking about confidentiality before you get tested. Or head to your doctor or local Planned Parenthood office. Be sure to ask how confidential your records are.”
North Carolina Family Policy Council president Bill Brooks, who was interviewed for the New York Times article, said that he was concerned about the text line interfering with parental rights. “If I couldn’t control access to this information, I’d turn off the texting service,” Brooks told the New York Times. “When it comes to the Internet, parents are advised to put blockers on their computer and keep it in a central place in the home. But kids can have access to this on their cell phones when they’re away from parental influenceand it can’t be controlled.”
Copyright © 2009. North Carolina Family Policy Council. All rights reserved.