Requests to share nudes? It happens younger than you think.
If you’ve read Thorn’s latest research report, then you know that kids are navigating online grooming and receiving requests for nudes often at far younger ages than many people think.
But despite a majority of parents thinking they should talk with their children about sharing nudes before the age of 13,only 1 in 5 parents have done so.
To compound the issue, kids often face shame and blame as they recover from negative digital experiences. This can exacerbate the harm they experience and further isolate kids who are in trouble.
So where does that leave kids and their parents? How can parents gain confidence to have these difficult conversations early and often with their children?
Enter Thorn for Parents – a digital resource hub designed to help parents have earlier, more frequent, and judgment-free conversations with kids about digital safety.
Not a parent? Tell a friend or family member who could benefit from this information!
THORN FOR PARENTS
BE YOUR KID’S SAFETY NET
Kids today face a very different set of challenges. There’s a whole new landscape where a child’s relationship with technology and normal sexual development overlap, with a whole new set of experiences online. And they need your help to navigate it safely.
TAKE THE FIRST STEP
Whether this is your first time talking to your child or you’ve broached a topic before, here are some areas to learn more about and guide conversations.
SEXTING & NUDES
When and how to have conversations about consent and the risks of sharing nudes.
DEVICE ACCESS & MONITORING
What access your child likely has, and things to consider when it comes to monitoring their behavior.
ALL ABOUT THE PLATFORMS
A guide to the places kids interact online — usage, risks, and privacy across the digital landscape.
“It is imperative that we… work to rebuild, innovate, and expand [STD] prevention in the U.S.,” Dr. Leandro Mena, director of the Division of STD Prevention at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a speech Monday at a medical conference on sexually transmitted diseases, the Associated Press reported.
Solutions include home test kits for some STDs that will make it easier for people to learn they are infected and to take steps to prevent spreading it to others, said Mena.
But Dr. Mike Saag, an infectious disease expert at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said a core part of efforts must be to increase condom use.
“It’s pretty simple. More sexually transmitted infections occur when people are having more unprotected sex,” Saag said.
The monkeypox outbreak has added another layer of concern, because the virus has been spreading largely between men who have sex with men.
Public health organizations and the National Coalition of STD Directors are calling for more federal funding, including $500 million for STD clinics.
Mena suggested reducing stigma, broadening screening and treatment, and supporting the development of at-home testing.
“I envision one day where getting tested [for STDs] can be as simple and as affordable as doing a home pregnancy test,” Mena said.
While syphilis cases dropped sharply with the availability of antibiotics in the 1940s, rates of the infection last year reached their highest since 1991. The total number of cases reached its highest level since 1948.
At one point, infection rates had been so low the CDC planned to work to eliminate the disease, but the agency discarded those plans in 2013 as case numbers continued to grow, the AP reported.
Cases have been rising since 2002, primarily in gay and bisexual men. In 1998, there were only 7,000 new syphilis cases nationwide. By 2021, that number was 52,000, the AP reported.
The rate of cases was 16 per 100,000 people last year, with the highest rates in men who have sex with men and in Black and Hispanic Americans and Native Americans, the AP reported.
Women have typically had a lower rate than men, but it rose 50% last year.
Syphilis causes genital sores. The bacterial infection can lead to severe symptoms and death without treatment.
Congenital syphilis, which passes the infection between a pregnant woman and her baby, can lead to loss of sight, hearing and even death in a newborn. Last year, congenital syphilis cases reached 2,700, including 211 infants who were stillborn or died. That’s a sharp increase from 300 cases annually a decade ago, the AP reported.
Infection rates for gonorrhea have also been increasing for years, while HIV cases were up 16% in 2021, the AP reported.
It is “out of control,” David Harvey, executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors, told the AP.
Reasons for the increase range from inadequate funding for testing and prevention to delayed diagnosis during the pandemic. Condom use has also been declining, while drug and alcohol use may have reduced inhibitions. Increases may also be linked to a surge in sexual activity after COVID-19 lockdowns.
Teacher charged with 24 sex crimes after posting TikToks of students, school says
A former Tennessee elementary school teacher is facing two dozen child sex charges including rape after police say she posted inappropriate videos of students to TikTok.
Taylor Cruze, 23, was indicted last week by a grand jury in Smyrna as a result of a police investigation in connection to the felony crimes, Rutherford County Schools spokesperson James Evans told USA TODAY.
Evans said that prior to her arrest last month, Cruze was a first-year fifth-grade teacher at John Colemon Elementary School in Smyrna, about 25 miles southeast of Nashville.
She was suspended without pay May 2, Evans said, and resigned from her job May 22.
Evans did not provide additional details about the case to USA TODAY, including what the TikTok videos contained or when they were posted.
On Aug. 3, court records show, officials issued a warrant for Cruze’s arrest and the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office arrested her Aug. 10.
Cruze is charged with multiple counts of exploitation of a minor under 13 by electronic means, exploitation of a minor by electronic means and especially aggravated sex exploitation of a minor. She also faces charges of solicitation of a minor – rape of a child, and sexual battery by an authority figure.
Court documents show that at the time of her arrest, Cruze lived in Murfreesboro, about 14 miles south of the elementary school.
On Wednesday, Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Lisa Marchesoni told USA TODAY her current address was listed in Knoxville.
A jail spokesperson told USA TODAY Wednesday that Cruze posted a $100,000 bond the same day she was arrested.
Court records show she is due in court on Sept. 28 for a plea hearing.
Evans said the school district is “fully cooperating with law enforcement” as the investigation continues.
Former Texas Rangers pitcher John Wetteland appeared in a Denton County Court on Monday to respond to charges
DENTON, TX – A Denton County judge on Friday declared a mistrial in the child sexual assault case against John Wetteland, a former Texas Rangers player who is accused of molesting a boy three times more than a decade ago.
The jury told the judge three times that it was split. At one point, the judge said she heard loud arguing coming from the deliberation room.
Wetteland, who testified in his defense during the trial last week, faced three counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child. He played for the Rangers from 1997 to 2000, as well as for the New York Yankees and Seattle Mariners, and is in the Rangers’ Hall of Fame.
At 4:40 p.m., the jury sent its third note to the judge. It said it was deadlocked and some jurors were “unwilling to budge.” The jurors asked how long they were expected to deliberate. Some were concerned about child care.
Judge Lee Ann Breading had pressed the jury to keep trying to reach a verdict. But after questioning the jury about 5 p.m., she declared a mistrial.
Wetteland, 56, faced 25 years to life in prison if convicted. It was unclear Friday whether prosecutors would pursue a second trial. Defense attorneys declined to comment.
Since Tuesday, jurors in 462nd District Court heard from the accuser, Wetteland and other witnesses.
According to authorities, Wetteland sexually assaulted the child three times between 2004 and 2006, starting when the child was 4 years old. Wetteland pleaded not guilty and said the accuser’s account of sexual abuse is a lie.
According to the accuser’s mother, he first told her in 2016 — when he was 16 — that Wetteland raped him as a child. She said she did not report the allegation to police. In his testimony, the accuser said he did not want to report the abuse and wanted an apology from Wetteland, according to the Denton Record-Chronicle.
The accuser testified on Tuesday. He said he looked up to Wetteland and wanted to please him. The first time Wetteland sexually abused him, he said, he was confused. The abuse impacted him deeply into his teenage years, he testified, causing incontinence, suicidal thoughts and self-harm.
When the boy was 18, his mother testified, she told him to write a letter about the abuse and planned to send it to people connected with Wetteland.
According to prosecutor Lindsey Sheguit, the document was saved on the Argygle school Google account, and the school district’s monitoring system flagged it. Employees discovered the letter, the school district’s chief technology officer testified Wednesday, and reported it to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.
On cross examination from Derek Adame, one of Wetteland’s defense attorneys, the technology officer testified that the district could not know who wrote the letter, only that it was written on the accuser’s account. Adame and defense attorney Caroline Simone argue the abuse allegations are not true and were possibly fabricated by a man named Chris. Chris is not biologically related to the accuser but lived with him when the accuser was a teenager.