Sunday, February 26, 2012


I have been trying to introduce my middle school students into my world of human sexuality.  Since I teach Family and Consumer Sciences, I can do this by including it under the umbrella of personal development lesson plans. This past year I began including sexting as one of my topics. This has been a challenge for numerous reasons.  First off, in my portion of FCS, I am in charge of teaching students how to sew, along with personal development, finance, consumerism, and relationships.  When I finish my sewing lessons, students always say, “why are we doing this? This is sewing”, to which I always respond, “Well this is Family and Consumer Sciences class and the State of Pennsylvania requires that along with sewing and cooking, students should also learn about this.” I’m like a broken record. Then I run into the challenges of having a very quiet class in which no one wants to talk about sexting with their teacher.  Or I have the challenge of having a group of overly sexed middle schools who want to talk about more than sexting and we get off topic.

I like to leave the discussion relaxed and open. If a student does not feel comfortable talking about the subject of sexting, I do not force him/her to. Learning about the sensitive and personal subject of sexuality thrives best in an atmosphere that promotes cooperation and dialogue with peers, consideration of one’s values and attitudes, and practice of new and old skills (Hedepeth & Helmich, 1996). I set up the chairs in a circle so everyone is seen and heard with no problems. It also helps me to see all students and no one can hide behind anyone else.

To help combat against some of these challenges, I established a “script” to help me if I get stuck with silence or we get off topic. This link covers most of the topics I like to discuss with my students.
(Shout out for Ashton and Canada). I like to make the subject of sexting relevant to the students so we discuss recent sexting news reports with celebrities and the average population. It’s important to get the students interested and talking about people they see on TV, it’s how I get their attention and let them know I know what’s going on in their world.

We also discuss the schools rules on sexting, sexual harassment, and technology in the student discipline book. After looking at the school rules, we move into laws in various states. This website has been helpful for me in comparing state

Finally we do scenarios about what the students should do if someone sexts you, how a sexting situation should be handled, and what the students think a possible consequence should be.

In ending the lesson, I ask the students if they have someone at the school they feel comfortable with to go to if a sexting issue were to come up.  Sometimes I have students who feel comfortable going to at least one adult and others who can’t think of one person in the school, but they have people at home. I also like to remind students they can come to me if they want to discuss anything.

I really enjoy teaching this lesson because it gives me a taste of sexuality in a Family and Consumer Sciences environment and it teaches students about technology, privacy, and lasting affects when dealing with sexting.

Hedgepeth, E., & Helmich, J. (1996). Teaching about sexuality and HIV: Principles and methods for effective education. New York, NY: NYU Press.


  1. Lauren the topic of sexting is a great concept to incorporate into your Family and Computer Sciences classes. The point is that the new technology that the students are using for sexually related practices should be addressed. By you incorporating it in that class session it allows the youth to feel as though it is part of a familiar setting and thusly be more comfortable discussing the topic with you. It was brilliant of you to put in under the "personal development" umbrella. This allows you to have the flexibility of adding more sexually related topics to the curriculum. The sexting segment will ultimately lead to some very interesting conversations, which will in fact influence your next lessons. Sexting can be very harmful to many students and cause a great deal of pain and embarrassment. I am glad you are providing them with resources if they feel they are in danger or need to talk to someone else about the issue.

  2. Thank You for posting this! Working in an lower socioeconomic adult population I often forget about technology and sexuality because it often just doesn't come up. Less than 1/4 of the individuals I work with even have cell phones. And, if they are sexting I assume they are doing it in a safe manner because they are adults and can make responsible decisions. Right?... Wrong(eg. governor Anthony Wiener). Nevertheless, its amazing how really important topics such as sexting and internet safety completely pass me by simply because I'm so used to catering to a specific population. I really appreciate the fact that you are approaching these important topic with your students and they have somebody like you to learn from. Thank you again fro providing me with different ideas about how to approach this topic.
    Also, I tried to click the links you posted but couldn't get them to work. It is highly probable that it's a user error but just wanted to give you a heads up.

  3. HA! I didn't know what the title of your post translated to but I found it on Nice! Anyhoo this is such a timely topic to discuss with your children in the classroom. I know teachers must get the question all the time "When am I ever going to use this?" and this is one those topics that you can tell them exactly how it will impact their life. Another caveat about this technology is that it is lasting so the text they send out will always be out there. I assume kids around that age probably think they invented sexting and that people before them never exchanged sexual messages. I don't know if you can do this in your classroom but I think it would just blow their minds if you demonstrated to them that sex has infiltrated every type of media/communication that humans invented and use from paintings to Shakespeare to the first "talkies" to the Internet. I feel this way they can also see how enduring sexual messaging is and how sex has always been an important part of the human experience. But, for their age group do you include a piece about child pornography when you discuss the laws of sexting? I couldn't open up your links so I wasn't sure what was included in your sexting laws website. I would be interested to hear some of the conversations you have in class and hear their opinions about all this. Lastly, I know the idea and practice of obtaining sexual health information via text messages is growing. Is that available at all in your area yet? I liked this topic, Lauren, thank you for posting it.

  4. Great post, Lauren! I think it's great that you've found a way to use what you've learned at Widener in your current job. I think for a lot of us the skill to "fit sexuality in" is going to be very important, because there are very few jobs where all there is to do is talk about is sexuality.

    Would you consider having a question box in your classroom? I think that could be a great way to cover some sexuality topics, show that you are trustworthy, AND ease students into the idea that they can talk to you about anything. You could just have it out during the class day and give everyone a post-it or index card at the beginning of class. Tell them to write questions if they have them or to write "I don't have a question" if they don't. Then tell them you will answer the questions at the beginning of the next class. This will give you some time to figure out the answers! That way, when you do the sexting lecture, they already have some experience talking to you about other sexuality issues. Also, it should only take up a few minutes of class-time but can really help out a student in need.

    Glad to hear you're getting some practice with the teaching of sexuality in your "day job." Keep fighting the good fight!

  5. Thanks for my shoutout Lauren, took me by surprise! First, i'd like to say good for you for throwing in sexting within the same class as sewing. We don't have this type of class, everything is separate (i.e. cooking, technology, woodworking etc), so I found that interesting! Second, these children should be so lucky you are educated in these matters of sexting. I highly doubt there are many other school educators who are even aware of its implication. Third, I think the article you found really speaks to kids on various levels. I think of the example the article gave about the break up followed by naked photos of the ex-girlfriend being out there in cyber space, just because she simply wanted her boyfriend to like her while they were dating. This example speaks to me in the sense of some self-esteem education also needs to be taught to our students today. Finally, I think the law also plays a large part and kids need to be aware of those implications as well. Overall, awesome job with you ability to teach kids the implications of sexting!

  6. Sexting is a such a relevant topic with teens today because there is so much technology compared to when I was growing up. Even within health classes, I'm not sure how much this topic is covered within the curriculum because it is relatively new. As sexuality educators, we end up doing education within a variety of settings because it is needed. Having a class where relationships and personal development topics are covered, you could easily cover many topics that the students might not get elsewhere.

    I agree with you that having a "script" to follow helps with keeping kids on track with the lesson and can help get them engaged in conversation. It's never fun to ask a question and get no response. Maybe it would help too to have a conversation about ground rules and confidentiality. Then the students might be more likely to engage in conversation. But kudos to you to be able to integrate useful topics into your classes!

  7. Great post, Lauren. And thanks for the great references. I spent some time last summer studying up on sexting and sexting laws and I was surprised by how confusing I found some of the laws. I was also surprised by how little I really knew about the phenomenon of sexting. So kudos on bringing it up in your class. I think the way you've described introducing this information to your class is perfect, and fantastic. In looking toward the future, I think you have set up a great template to talk about other subjects in your FCS class.

  8. Great post, Lauren! I find sexting to be such an interesting topic. Its so important for us, as sex educators, to do our best to keep up with changes in technology and how it affects everything, including sexuality.
    I love how you were able to incorporate some sex ed into your class! I hope that you are also able to add some other sexuality topics, as well. Maybe for the sewing lesson, you could teach the kids to sew us all some of those anatomically-correct teaching dolls! All kidding aside, I really found your tips very helpful. I often forget how much of a difference it can make to just switch up something as seemingly small as seating arrangements in a classroom. And I second Kelly's suggestion to pass around index cards at the beginning. That will help lesson those moments when nobody wants to openly discuss a particular topic in front of their peers.

  9. Hey everyone I don't think my links work! I'm currently in CA visiting my husband and will be back Saturday so I can fix them then! Thanks for the heads up and feedback from the post

  10. Hi Lauren,
    As everyone else said, I think it is great that you are being able to introduce current topics about sexuality in your class. I am pretty sure your students are learning very important information, though they may complaint about it, of course!
    There is a website about sexting and other issues with technology and intimate relationships that I personally think it is very well done, and could be very engaging for students: they have different videos and “call card” that students could download and send to peers who are pressuring them to sext. It also includes other topics like sharing passwords, harassing people through technology, etc. and it is LGBTQ inclusive.
    You could either incorporate it somehow in your lesson plan (if you thin kit is appropriate, and your classroom has the technology), or give it to students as extra resources. The website is: Hope you like it!

  11. This is a GREAT post! I hope you not mind. I published an excerpt on the site and linked back to your own blog for people to read the full version. Thanks for your advice.

  12. Very interesting! It's awesome that you can sneak sexuality into your curriculum. Sometimes we have to be creative! Do you talk with your class about sexting as a safe, healthy way to express their sexuality in a consensual relationship? Sexting is often discussed in a negative light in reference to sexual harassment but that is not all it has to offer. I think sexting can be a easy way to start a conversation about consensual vs nonconsenual sex acts.