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Student Suspended Over Facebook Threat; Dangers of Sexting
Aired May 30, 2011 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DR. DREW PINSKY, HOST: What we`ll be talking about the next hour is an uncomfortable issue. And because of that, parents and kids often avoid talking to each other about this. Of course we`re talking about sex and sexual relationships. But when you don`t confront it, and when you don`t talk about it, kids go to their peers and the media for the information, and that`s not always the best information.
Sit down with your kids. Ask open-ended questions. And just keep it on their terms.
Don`t have a talk with them. That tends to just overwhelm them. But make sure you keep an open-ended dialogue going, and don`t leave it just to someone else.
Certainly enlist the help of the schools, but face is head-on as much as you can. And once you get past the embarrassment, you`ll be happy you did.
So, first up, something that could be quite a hazard for kids, underage Facebook use. School authorities suspended a student for threatening a teacher online.
PINSKY: Shayne Dell`isola, she`s a 13-year-old eighth grader. She posted a disturbing message on her Facebook page last week.
Here it is. It says, "I wish Osama bin Laden had killed my teacher instead of 3,000 people in the twin towers."
Now, her mom says her daughter, of course, shouldn`t have posted this, but also shouldn`t have been punished by the school. We reached out to the middle school and they did not get back to us for a comment.
Shayne and her mom, Kimberly Dell`isola, are joining us from New Hampshire. There they are.
Also with us is Lori Getz. She is with the Cyber Education Consultants.
And prosecutor Wendy Murphy. And I believe she`s in Boston at this time.
Now, Kimberly, I want to start with you and ask, were you surprised that they suspended Shayne?
KIMBERLY DELL`ISOLA, DAUGHTER SUSPENDED OVER FACEBOOK POST: I was when I found out -- when I found out that it wasn`t something that had happened at school in any way. Originally, the thought was she had somehow taken this to school, shown it off at school, said it at school, something to that effect. But when I was told that it had nothing to do with school, that it was actually brought into school by the principal, as opposed to Shayne, then I was very surprised, yes.
PINSKY: What do you think they should have done?
DELL`ISOLA: I think they should have called me, actually. It happened at home, and I certainly would have responded to it appropriately and had a discussion with her. My first concern was, why was she so upset?
It was unlike her to say something in that kind of manner so aggressively. And so my first concern would have been, what`s wrong with my child? What`s happening here with this teacher that she feels this angrily towards her?
PINSKY: Have you had those kinds of conversations since this all came up?
DELL`ISOLA: We did immediately, yes, when she came home.
All right. Shayne, I want to go to you now, because I certainly -- I was 12 and 13. I can remember hating teachers. I can remember wishing horrible things on them.
But I want to understand -- when I was 13 or 12, there also wasn`t an Internet and a Facebook. So I want to understand what it looks like to you. What made you think that -- I don`t know, that that would release some of that anger but nobody would notice? Is that what you were thinking?
SHAYNE DELL`ISOLA, THREATENED TEACHER ON FACEBOOK: Well, I just figured people would kind of laugh at it, and I never thought I`d get suspended or anything for it, or end up here. And I just figured it would -- like any other status, it would just be said and then it would go away.
PINSKY: So do you now understand this differently, that hateful language can really have an impact?
S. DELL`ISOLA: Yes.
PINSKY: I`m curious by you thinking that it`s funny. Do you -- again, I`m just fascinated by people your age and how the Internet is perceived. When people say horrible things on the Internet, do they think it`s funny?
S. DELL`ISOLA: Well, it wasn`t funny, but, I mean, I didn`t mean it, so -- I don`t know, I guess I just didn`t think anything real big of it.
PINSKY: So you didn`t mean seriously you intended to hurt somebody.
Lori, do you think the school should have suspended her?
LORI GETZ, CYBER EDUCATION CONSULTANTS: Well, I think that the school has the right to suspend a student when they create an atmosphere where a teacher feels threatened.
GETZ: So, yes, they do have the right to do this. You know, it`s kind of a murky area because we don`t have clear guidelines. And schools need to really kind of let parents know what they expect of their students.
PINSKY: And Wendy, how about you? Do you ring in on the same side of this argument or do you disagree?
WENDY MURPHY, FMR. PROSECUTOR: Well, you know, on the one hand, I think schools do need a great deal of discretion in dealing with all kinds of disciplinary issues. And schools that think they always can or always cannot impose discipline because the bad thing happened in cyberspace, beware.
The legal test -- and it is changing, it`s evolving, and it`s getting clearer, which is a good thing -- the legal test is very simple, Dr. Drew. It`s this: we don`t care where the bad behavior happened, we care where the effects land.
So if there`s a harmful effect from something that happens on MySpace or Facebook or anywhere in cyberspace, but the harm is felt in the school community, schools have a duty to act. Not only a right, but a duty to act, although I feel for Shayne, and she sounds like she has a great mom who cares about doing the right thing.
So schools have to use their discretion. Let parents help.
My goodness, let parents help, because sometimes they don`t even know what`s going on. And if they could help, they would. It wouldn`t escalate. There would be no suspension.
This child deserves an education. I could go on. This, I think, went too fast, too far.
PINSKY: And Wendy, just as I`m interested in Shayne`s perspective, I`m interested in yours as well, because you`re sitting at sort of the fulcrum of all this legal action in regards to these same behaviors.
And what direction are we going here? Are we going in a direction where people are going to have to build a bunch of laws just so people behave civilly on the Internet?
MURPHY: Yes, of course. I mean, for now, the Internet is the Wild Wild West, where we don`t have lots of regulation.
There`s to question in the future the Internet will be heavily regulated. We`re not there yet. And so lots of really bad behavior happens on the Internet because, well, it can. People can get away with all sorts of horrible things because they know they`re not going to get in trouble.
Schools, I think, do have a special responsibility. The law is clear that schools have a special responsibility. We`ve certainly heard lots of stories about bullying, whether it`s texting or on the Internet and social networking, causing suicide.
We need to step it up and then some, if you ask me. I`d like to see more regulation on the Internet. We`re definitely moving in that direction.
And, you know, look, you know you can`t make jokes at the airport, right? You have to be careful if you`re a kid making jokes and it could affect your school community. It`s kind of like being at the airport. You might think it`s funny, but you might be suspended.
PINSKY: Well, I wonder if one day either this kind of bullying kinds of behavior that we see so commonly on the Internet are going to continue, or if years from now, we`re going to look back and we`re going to look back and go, God, can you believe how people used to behave on the Internet? I hope it`s the latter.
But Shayne, I want to go back to you and ask how you felt when you went back to school and you had to kind of face this teacher, right?
S. DELL`ISOLA: Well, I didn`t have to face her. I just got back to school today. And there was actually -- we talked to each other this morning, and we apologized. So everything`s fine with us now.
But I didn`t have to face her in math because there was a substitute. So in the morning was the only time that I had to face her.
PINSKY: How were you -- first of all, why the big delay in going back to school? I think it`s been a while. It`s well beyond the suspension. Were you suspended, right?
S. DELL`ISOLA: Yes. I --
PINSKY: And so why the delay going back? And then how do your peers treat you? How do your peers see this whole thing?
S. DELL`ISOLA: Well, I`ve lost a few friends over it because their moms said that I was a bad influence.
PINSKY: Wow. That`s got to be painful.
K. DELL`ISOLA: For the most part she`s gotten support.
PINSKY: OK. I mean, that`s got to be very painful for her.
Shayne, I`m sorry that this has been such a problematic experience for you, but I hope you will share with your peers what you`ve learned.
Because, I mean, let`s face it, Lori, this is the generation that`s going to have to lead the way through this wild west of the Internet.
GETZ: Well, what`s so interesting about this is that here our kids are actually making the rules in cyberspace. We, as parents, we need to step it up as parents. We`re so used to parenting in the physical realm. We make rules for everything.
PINSKY: I`m going to interrupt you. I think Kimberly said that she did. She watched something slip through. It`s hard. It`s hard to watch your kids.
GETZ: Sure. But it`s not just about watching them all the time. It`s about setting the props rules for them so they understand what their expectations are.
PINSKY: Shayne, are you OK? I hear you in the background kind of --
K. DELL`ISOLA: She`s upset, yes.
PINSKY: What are you upset about, Shayne?
K. DELL`ISOLA: She --
PINSKY: What happened?
K. DELL`ISOLA: Well, this is the issue that we`ve been dealing with. This is a child whose Facebook was completely locked down, whose principal heard about this through a phone call. It didn`t infiltrate her school in any way.
She didn`t take it to school. She didn`t speak of it at school. She didn`t have access to Facebook at school. She has no text messaging at school. She has no phone at school.
But her principal took this information and brought it to school for her instead of being a responsible person and making sure that her rights were protected. These are good laws that are put in place to protect children, but instead these laws were used to persecute a child who made a mistake. And that`s inconsiderate, to say the least.
The teacher wasn`t even aware of the post, and he brought this to school, he disrupted her education. He disrupted that teacher`s class.
PINSKY: Shayne -- I get you, Kim. I hear you, Kim.
Shayne, I just want to make sure you`re OK. Do you want a chance to talk here?
I am so sorry this has been so hurtful for you. I really am. And for the most part, you do feel supported by people? Is that true?
S. DELL`ISOLA: Yes.
PINSKY: OK. Are you crying about something particular right now?
S. DELL`ISOLA: I`m just -- I`m just crying because I`m -- this -- like, I`ve got people who are on my side and people who think I`m just a brat who deserved to be punished. But you don`t even know me and you don`t know my story, and that`s not fair.
And I`ve lost three of my very best friends over it. And it`s not fair to judge me when you don`t know the story.
PINSKY: I completely agree with you. I completely agree with you.
And it actually makes me a little sick, this whole situation, that, again, the Internet is a dangerous place. And this is a cautionary tale. And just because somebody has said something or they look like they`re victimizing another person doesn`t mean that they, themselves, can`t turn out to be the victim in these interactions.
Shayne, I`m so sorry you`re going through this.
And Kim, in no way are we singling you out and say you haven`t done a good job. As I told Lori, it sounds like you have done a good job, but stuff slips through. And that is the nature of the Internet. It`s a dangerous place going both ways.
Wendy, do you have any concluding comments for us about how parents can protect themselves?
MURPHY: I`m very angry that this child is this upset, because this is an area of expertise of mine, and I can tell you a story about a young girl, a similar situation, who was harassed on Facebook. People calling her names, calling her sexual slurs. And when she went to the school to ask them to punish the bullies at the school who were doing that to her, you know what they said? We can`t get involved, that`s off campus, that`s free speech, sorry.
So what I really dislike about this story is that this poor child, who did almost nothing when you compare to what other kids have suffered, who end up taking their own lives because they get bullied in that same environment, they end up committing suicide. This poor child is crying.
Schools need to get it together and punish when it`s appropriate and back off when it isn`t. Is it worth it? I bet that school feels pretty bad right now.
PINSKY: All right, kids. Here`s something that could haunt you forever -- sexting. When you see what`s next, I hope you will never think about doing this.
PINSKY: If I was here 10 years ago telling you that sexting would be a huge problem 10 years in the future, you would have no idea what I was talking about and I would have no idea what I was talking about. But sexting is here, and I`m sorry to say it`s a big problem. And I`m not going to stop warning you about the consequences.
I spoke to with attorney Mark Haushalter, who handles criminal cases involving sexting and Vanessa Van Petten, creator of the site RadicalParenting.com, and radio talk show host Cooper Lawrence. Watch this.
PINSKY: We are talking sexting. Why are teens doing it? Should it be a crime?
Research shows us that 39 percent of teens, they have sent images or sexy messages.
Ally Pereira was 16 when she sent her boyfriend a topless photo, and she says the mistake turned her life into a living hell.
First up, I guess people out there are wondering, what were you thinking when you did this and what was your motivation?
ALLY PEREIRA, SENT TOPLESS PHOTO TO EX-BOYFRIEND: Well, it was entirely impulsive. He had just texted me. We had broken up for two months, and he said, I`ll get back together with you if you send me a naked picture.
So acting, I guess, like I teenager, I thought that I was going to marry him. We were 16. I thought we were going to be together forever. So, me and my two best friends, we just said, oh, let`s just do it. And we took it and we sent it, and didn`t think anything about it at all.
PINSKY: And what happened?
PEREIRA: By the next day, he had sent it to every single person in his contact list. And it went throughout the entire school. Teachers got it. Parents got it. My brother got it.
PINSKY: And what happened to you as a result of all this?
PEREIRA: Well, I was called "ho" or "slut" on a daily basis in the hallways. A girl stood on a table in the cafeteria and screamed, (INAUDIBLE) and "Slut!" People would come to my house, and they vandalized it by throwing a tire into the glass door and by putting paint cans in my pool.
PINSKY: Ally, I understand that you said at one point that the parents were as bad as the kids. What did you mean by that?
PEREIRA: Yes. There were parents of -- like, my best friend`s dad would text me and say, "I saw your picture. If you want to come over for chocolates and wine" --
PINSKY: Oh my God. Hang on a second.
Isn`t that a crime, Mark?
HAUSHALTER: Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. You can`t start enticing minors to come over.
PINSKY: Well, but doesn`t that -- that`s another layer to this whole thing, that kids then expose themselves to predators as a result of this.
HAUSHALTER: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely, Doctor.
Here is a major thing that most people don`t know about. There are sites out there where you can put your photos into and then share them, and all of a sudden, you can have a sexual online predator come in, go into those files. And all of a sudden, if there`s some nudity or sexually explicit photos, now it`s in the predator`s community and now they`re saying it.
PINSKY: Wow. That`s unbelievable.
Ally, what was the bottom for this experience for you? What was it like for you to go through that? And what was the absolute rock bottom?
PEREIRA: The worst part of it was probably right before I told my parents, just trying to keep it quiet, because it`s like a state of fear. Like, I would sleep with my mom`s cell phone, and I would wake up at numerous times during the night to go and look at her e-mail and her cell phone, and my dad`s cell phone, to make sure nobody had told them about the picture yet.
And so that was like rock bottom for me, because I was so scared of what they were going to think of me and how it was going to be. But then after they found out, it really kind of helped me heal because they helped me get better.
PINSKY: That`s nice. Did you have to get professional help to get through this?
PEREIRA: Yes. We went to family therapy for two years.
Vanessa, out to you. This -- one of the most striking things about this -- and dealing with young people myself all the time, this piece sort of stood out for me. And I`m going to give you some data, and I want you to respond to it. And Ally is an example of this.
Fifty-one percent of teen girls say pressure from a guy is the reasons they send these text messages. What the heck is going on with our young men and our young women?
VANESSA VAN PETTEN, RADICALPARENTING.COM: There is intense -- and this was echoed by Ally`s story and what Nina was saying earlier -- there`s intense social pressure. As much as we -- we`ve already had the talks of oh, you know, he wants me to go farther. Now, you know, sending a sext or sending an image of yourself, there`s a lot about reciprocal relationship.
Do you love me enough? You know, are we close enough? Do you trust me?
And so it`s almost become a gauge in young relationships. And the problem is, you know, we feel the social pressure, but we don`t necessarily look at the social repercussions.
I think that when Ally was sending the text, she said, I didn`t even, you know, think about what would happen, I just did it. Because we don`t realize all the social repercussions of the sexual predators, and having that photo out there, and how all your friends can really turn on you very quickly.
PINSKY: Well, right. And that`s back to what we were saying earlier.
Cooper, you and I were talking about the fact that that part of their brain where they can predict consequences is shut down. It`s actually closed for remodeling for about 10 years.
COOPER LAWRENCE, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Right. A good way to put it.
PINSKY: And how do you react when you hear about these young girls -- yes. How do you respond to hearing about these young women? I mean, Ally is this lovely young girl being effectively coerced by a young male.
LAWRENCE: Sadly, I`m not surprised, because the studies that we did, what we found is that at that age, it`s the boys that have the power socially. So the boys choose who the popular boys are going to be. If the boys like you, you`re the popular girl.
So, the pressure from boys to send a sext or do something that you might not want to do is greater than I think we adults realize. It`s the boys that set that tone. The boys decide who`s popular, who`s not popular, and girls react as a result.
PINSKY: It`s the boys that set the agenda, but it`s the competition amongst the females that raise the bar. Right?
LAWRENCE: Exactly. It`s the idea that the girls understand this competition. And I don`t think that the boys are engaged in it as the girls are, the social aggression that happens amongst girls.
You know, actually there`s a good deal of research that shows as boys get older, they become less physically aggressive. And as girls get older, they become more socially aggressive. And this is the new type of social aggression.
If I sent a text to somebody else`s boyfriend, it`s a way of saying I`m prettier than you, I`m hotter than you, your boyfriend likes me. And it`s out of social aggression that I`m doing it, not out of sexuality --
PINSKY: Wow. That is a very, very interesting thing. And it seems to me that behind that, then, is parenting. Right? Isn`t this ultimately -- I mean these are --
PINSKY: -- young adolescents we`re talking about. So this is a parenting challenge.
I go back out to both of you. Do you have a response? Do you have a recommendation for parents?
And then, Mark, we`ll come back to you.
VAN PETTEN: There`s three things I always tell parents to ask.
Number one, if you`re sitting at dinner with your kids later tonight, what is your sexting rules at school? What are the sexting rules in this home? Do you know them? And number two, do you think there are any social consequences for sexting?
With those three questions, you`ll be able to see, where does my child stand on this issue, and then be able to have the right conversation.
LAWRENCE: The research that I`ve done, I found that parents have more power than they realize. So do older siblings.
So, if you don`t feel comfortable speaking to a parent, you might feel more comfortable speaking to an older sibling, somebody who`s kind of been through it. But the idea is that you need somebody who doesn`t have your frontal lobe still under construction, as you were saying earlier, Drew, to actually give the guidance that you need.
PINSKY: There you go.
LAWRENCE: Because the long-term consequences of this, you`re 30 years old and you`re going for a job, and this picture of you is on the Internet. I don`t think you want a prospective employer seeing that.
PINSKY: Right. We haven`t even talked about the long-term effects yet.
Ally, I want to thank you for joining us.
Does this make any sense to you, what these ladies are saying?
PEREIRA: Yes. I just don`t think that you should always blame the parents.
HAUSHALTER: I think that kids should think before they act. And again, a lot of parents don`t think before they act, but if we put more responsibility on each other, I think we`re going to be OK.
PINSKY: Two states are now moving to lower the penalty for teen sexting. We`ll be keeping our eyes on that.
And when we come back, your questions, my answers. And as we like to say here, no topic is taboo.
PINSKY: Welcome back.
We know a lot of you are dealing with many of the same teen problems at home, so we`re going to go right to the phones.
Laura in Long Beach.
Hey there, Laura.
LAURA, LONG BEACH: Hi, Dr. Drew.
My daughter is only 5 years old. But at what age do you begin sexual dialogue? I have always been pretty clear about identifying body parts with their appropriate names, but at what point do we actually have the full-blown sex talk?
PINSKY: All right. This is a great question, and almost every parent sort of at least is musing about this question. And the reality is it`s sort of never too young to begin conversation.
Now, what I mean by that is very open-ended conversations. You`re absolutely correct to use anatomically correct and accurate terms when describing body parts and whatnot, and not to shame kids. But they`ll kind of start having questions, even around 5 sometimes. And just answer them matter of factly and just, at that point, say, "Do you have any more questions?"
And see if you can keep that kind of dialogue going into adolescence. That`s the challenge. And I am not a fan of "the sex talk." I think it`s a bad idea. I think it just overwhelms and freaks kids out.
And when you come with a head of steam to try to give a kid a plumbing lesson that you think they have got to have, they don`t hear much of that. You just need to make sure they`re hearing constantly your sort of values and your orientation and demystifying things. And if you have that dialogue going, which is a really important thing, you`ll sustain it through adolescence.
We have another call from Alice in California.
ALICE, CALIFORNIA: Hi, Dr. Drew.
PINSKY: Hey, Alice.
ALICE: My son is 14 and he often gets into blue moods. He`s sweet and sensitive and never gives me any trouble. He just gets down at times. How do I tell the difference between regular teenage moodiness and depression?
PINSKY: Alice, that is so difficult and another great question.
All teenagers are depressed. Right? They have at least some moodiness, and as you say, blue moods. They can irritable and withdrawn and whatnot. And that`s normal.
I think -- first of all, just know that your pediatrician and your school, too, can help you with this. So ask questions.
If you`re getting input from the school, or if you take the child to the pediatrician and ask about it, they can be very, very helpful in determining this for you. But the thing to watch out for, the number one real evidence of a significant depression, is a sudden drop in grades.
If that`s happening, definitely have him evaluated. And as you were saying, being withdrawn, irritable, change in their dress, change in their peer group, those sorts of things, appetite changes, sleep pattern changes, those are things to really watch out for, particularly if they go more than two weeks.
Crystal on Facebook writes, "I`m 18 now, and my boyfriend wants lots of sex, but I`m not sure if he`s just using me."
He`s 18 and he wants a lot of sex is sort of normal for an 18-year- old. And I guess the way to -- the best way -- a lot of young women call with these kinds of complaints and concerns.
And the fact is, if your instincts tell you that he is not available emotionally the way you need him to be, listen to that instinct. Whether it`s that he needs to step up and be more available, or it is not the kind of person you want to be with, in either case, trust your instinct.
We`ve got Rachel on the line.
Rachel, what`s up there?
RACHEL: Hi, Dr. Drew.
PINSKY: Hi, Rachel.
RACHEL: I`d just like to know if you think it`s appropriate for another parent to call and interrogate or even hold a conversation with their children`s friends if they suspect something unusual is going on?
PINSKY: Boy, these are great questions. I would say -- I find it bizarre that another parent would do that without the parent of the child present.
I certainly advocate people going downstream on the social networking sites and try to learn what they can about their kids and what other kids are saying about them. But to actually have a face-to-face or a phone conversation, no, you want the parents present. Everyone needs to have a unified front on this and be on the same page.
All right. How sexually active are teens in this country in 2011? You might be surprised, and that is next.
PINSKY: If you want to know what teens are thinking about sex, I want to know if they`re having it, we got answers to those questions and much more when we sat down with a panel of teens.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is time you and I had the talk.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I shouldn`t have sex.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think on your 30th birthday.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lauren and I are going to make a sex tape.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Diddy on the dirty.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you think of my (EXPLETIVE DELETED)?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What I want to know is that (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: after I have sex with a guy, I will rip their heads off.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is it true you think you got your girlfriend pregnant via hot tub?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have what?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Called chlamydia.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You dirty dog.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was trading intimate text messages with another woman.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my God. I have to deal with this. It was hard. It was devastating. It was heartbreaking. It was hard.
PINSKY: It`s just out there everywhere, and no one`s having a really careful conversation about this. Now, if you`re the parent of a teen, you need to pay attention to the following stats. Thirteen percent of teens have had vaginal intercourse by the age of 15. By their 19th birthday, seven in ten teens have. Couple those numbers with these statistics, you can understand why parents have a lot of concern or cause for concern.
A sexually active teen who does not use a contraceptive has a 90 percent chance of becoming pregnant within a year. Although, 15 to 24- year-olds represent only one quarter of the sexually active population, they account for nearly half. That is 9.1 million of the 18.9 million new cases of STIs each year including HIV and AIDS.
Now, first of all, I want to say, if parents at home have concern about what we`re talking about tonight, please make your viewing choices with your kids accordingly. I think you ought to be watching this with children and having this conversation. We`re going to deal with this maturely, gently, carefully, but let me just say, something`s going wrong. With all those STIs in young people, we did "Teen Moms" earlier in the week, and I threw out all those data about all that data about teen pregnancies and how common it is, we`re doing something wrong.
We do the least well of all industrialized nations. So, let`s consider teenagers an asset. Let`s consider the media an asset and see if we can`t do something reasonable with this problem. So, the first block here, joining me are three courageous high school students. They`re here to talk honestly about this topic. I have Danielle and Shelby, both are 17 years of age. I also have Adam, he is 15. And also, I`ve got Michelle Goalland. She is a clinical psychologist who works with teens.
Now, first, I`m going to start with Danielle who`s the closest to me. Just say, what does it look like? What is it like for high school student today?
DANIELLE, 17, LOST HER VIRGINITY WHEN SHE WAS 16: It`s really hard because a lot of high school students, they don`t have really good communication with their parents, and a lot of parents are really sheltering their kids from what`s really happening because they`re like, oh, my baby, I don`t want her to grow up.
PINSKY: It`s tough as a parent to deal with that. That`s another topic that no one ever talks about is our little babies are growing up and becoming mature, sexual adults.
DANIELLE: Yes, but if you -- I feel like if you shelter your kids so much, they`re going to want to do more things. My mom and I are very open with each other, and she knows some -- she knows a lot of the things I`ve done and that`s just because I feel --
PINSKY: Do you feel comfortable talking about that here?
DANIELLE: I feel totally comfortable talking about that here.
PINSKY: What have you done?
DANIELLE: I have had sex before with a boy who I was with for a couple months, like eight months, and --
PINSKY: You discussed it with you mom?
DANIELLE: I discussed it with my mom.
PINSKY: Did you discuss it before you did it?
DANIELLE: No. I didn`t really want to talk about it. I discussed it after I did it, but she knew right when she saw my face.
PINSKY: But might not it have been a good idea to discuss it before?
DANIELLE: Yes, it would have.
PINSKY: Do you regret having done it?
DANIELLE: In a way, I do, because, I mean, if I could have gone back in time, I would have waited.
PINSKY: Michelle, Dr. Golland, I`ve not yet a teenager female who didn`t say that, I wish I could have just waited longer, no matter what the age was almost.
MICHELLE GOLLAND, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: Right. Well, I think the problem is, Dr. Drew, is that we view this issue through the lens of politics and religion, instead of a public health issue. Period. That`s what this is.
PINSKY: And these kids, as such, are the source of information on this public health issue.
PINSKY: So, I`m going to go on to Shelby. Shelby, what does it look like from your standpoint?
SHELBY, 17, LOST HER VIRGINITY WHEN SHE WAS 16: At school, everybody, everyone`s doing it --
SHELBY: Well, not everyone, but most people, they are doing it. It`s talked about so much. And parents really are just in the dark about it. Where I live, in my town, there`s a very highly religious population, and they just don`t want to admit that their kids are having sex and involving in sexual activity. They just don`t want to admit to it.
PINSKY: You have only the what`s talked about. So, we don`t know for sure what`s being talked about is actually what`s happening, I suppose, right?
PINSKY: But at least, for sure -- are you tearing up?
SHELBY: No, no.
PINSKY: OK. In your town, it`s being talked about constantly.
SHELBY: Yes. Like, people come back from Monday, the weekend, they`re like, oh, yes, this is what I did this weekend. I don`t understand why it`s, like, a game for guys. It`s a game to see how many girls that they can have sex with or, like, and they get praised for it, too, and us girls, we sit back and if we, like, people judge us, and they`re like, oh, you`re a whore if you go out and have sex with a guy.
PINSKY: Who are the people that judge you?
SHELBY: Our peers.
PINSKY: Your peers, your female peers?
SHELBY: High school students.
PINSKY: Boys or girls?
PINSKY: Are girls a little harsher?
DANIELLE: Girls are catty.
PINSKY: This is the thing that troubles me is the girls are even worse. Adam, you`re laughing about this.
ADAM, 15, NOT SEXUALLY ACTIVE, PURSUED BY GIRLS: Sorry.
PINSKY: But go ahead. What`s it look like from your standpoint?
ADAM: Well, guys, like, I have a couple guy friends who are just like, yes, I`ve done it.
PINSKY: At 15?
ADAM: Yes. At 15. And I have a couple of girl friends who`ve done that, too, at 15.
PINSKY: Do you think that`s a good idea?
ADAM: Not really. I mean, why? Just the question I have. Just why do it when you could just wait until later and make it better?
PINSKY: Has it become normal for a 16, 17-year-old. Is it normative? Is it considered you should be doing that?
ADAM: Well --
DANIELLE: I think people are pressured into doing it.
PINSKY: By whom?
DANIELLE: By the guy that they`re with, by music, by TV, television. They want to know what it`s like to have sex because, apparently, everybody`s doing it, but I feel like you have to be emotionally ready. It`s not just physical. There are so many emotions that go with it. And a lot of girls have sex with a guy to make them closer. And that`s not what`s going to make you closer. Like, sex and making love are two different things.
PINSKY: So, why don`t they know that?
DANIELLE: Because they`re not fully developed yet. They don`t -- maturely.
ADAM: They`re too young.
PINSKY: Do you think the internet has had a role to play here? Doesn`t pornography and all that nonsense just rain down on you guys?
DANIELLE: The media.
ADAM: It`s so easy to get, I mean, like, it`s easy to get to those, you know, websites of, like, porno and stuff like that.
PINSKY: Do you think it affects like -- males, your age, do you think it affects how they think about young women or women at all?
ADAM: They think it`s like, oh, yes, I got this chick. It`s like, win for me, instead of --
SHELBY: They high five at school about it all the time. They`re like, oh yes, I had sex with so-and-so. And I see it every day. They`re just like high fiving. I`m like, are you kidding me? Like, sex isn`t something that should be a game. It should be, like, respected and you should value, like, sex with someone, and it shouldn`t just be thrown away with a random person. You should --
DANIELLE: It`s like competition for guys. Oh, I had sex with her. I had sex with this one. I had sex with that one. And then for girls, a lot of girls, like I said, just do it to bring yourself closer. But a lot of - - like, I think a lot of girls do it because they`re insecure with themselves, and they haven`t really met -- not a lot of girls -- they say the word I love you, and they just think having sex will prove that love, but --
PINSKY: Which is sad, right?
GOLLAND: And I think, you know, one of the big issues that needs to be addressed is that we, as parents, have to speak directly and honestly with our kids. And really give them all the information. But, again, this overwhelming political and religious bend that we don`t talk about it in public school, that we can`t address it really. It really colors everything that I think we, as parents, do.
And we know statistically, unfortunately, Dr. Drew, we are failing them. We are failing -- we are the adults. We are the country that can, you know, take this and do this and do what we need to do politically, and we don`t do it.
PINSKY: We don`t look at it as a health issue, but Shelby, you seem emotional to me. Did something happen with you with this topic?
SHELBY: Well, actually, today, I just told my mom that I had sex. Today actually. And I just want to thank you for that, for --
PINSKY: You`re smiling.
PINSKY: Was it a good experience?
SHELBY: It was a good experience. She wasn`t as mad as I thought she would be, but she feels OK with it.
PINSKY: And let me speak on behalf of parents. If we get -- if we were to get mad at you for telling us something tender about yourself like that, it would be out of fear of you getting hurt. That would be really what we`re responding to, not that you disappointed us, you`re not a good person, we don`t love you. It scares us. And we respond the only primitive way we know how which is not a great response.
GOLLAND: We have to address the fact that, you know, teens are sexually active because they have sexual hormones running through their body. We have to -- I mean, don`t you remember? I mean, I do. It`s what happens.
GOLLAND: And so, we have to teach them about other things, Dr. Drew, honestly, like masturbation, about why they feel the things they do.
GOLLAND: And really be honest about how they feel about sex and their bodies.
PINSKY: It is -- let`s be clear. It`s a very personal dialogue that every parent, child, or family has to negotiate, but somewhere, we`re failing kids. I think the media is failing. I`m hoping this conversation helps a little bit. I think we, as parents, need to step our game up a little bit.
Worried about your child having a baby? Go get your teen sons and daughters right now, sit them down, and we`re going to watch real teen moms talk about some tough stuff. It`s next.
PINSKY: If you watch "16 and Pregnant" or "Teen Mom" and follow the kids` lives, you know that a couple have had legal problems and drug issues. Of course, any person with a baby, a young person, a teenager is learning a hard way that having children is beyond challenging. Take a look at this, but make sure your teenagers are paying attention.
Now, you`ve heard about teen moms, the show "Teen Mom." It`s, you know, it`s -- you particularly heard about it after one of the stars was shown in jail after a violent backyard brawl. This was all caught on camera. We`re going to show you that. It went viral. Take a look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You`re such a stupid --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (EXPLETIVE DELETED) inside the house. Get inside the house.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "Teen Mom" paid to fight? Unbelievable explosive reports today.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The star of "16 and Pregnant.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "Teen Mom" star faces the music after getting arrested on drug charges.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bombshell tonight.
PINSKY: God knows the networks make money off it. Reality program is intended to be a cautionary tale.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: There`s somebody talking some sense about this. So -- and I, you know, I`m sympathetic to my peers on HLN who were reporting this. I mean, it was a big story, but I want to get people to focus on what the issue is. They`ve been looking at the wrong issue which is, oh my goodness, this reality show created a problem. No, teen pregnancy unravels young lives, and you just happened to catch one, unraveling. That`s the issue. Now, you need to also know that since this show has been airing, teen pregnancy in the U.S. is actually down.
According to the CDC, Centers for Disease Control, the U.S. still has the highest rate of teen pregnancy in the developed world, but it is down. We`ll talk more about that data as we go along. Tonight, three of the stars of MTV`s "Teen Mom" is here, the original three, and we`re going to talk to them uncensored and uncut. Check this out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY (voice-over): MTV started following Maci Bookout, Farrah Abraham and Catelynn Lowell on the show, "16 and Pregnant." They were young, naive, and pregnant. They all faced different trials, absent, and unsupportive partners, death of a loved one, and a struggle of choosing adoption. The show was a runaway hit, and the girls not only became new mothers, they became instant celebrities.
They`re here tonight to get real. Teen pregnancy isn`t glamorous. It`s been an uphill battle for each and every one of these young women. I know them personally. I`ve worked with them on their struggles. Now, they are sharing their painful and hopeful stories with you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY (on-camera): You know them as Maci, Farrah and Catelynn. This is Maci bookout, Farrah Abraham, and Catelynn Lowell, they`re three of the four original "16 and Pregnant" girls and original "Teen Moms." They join us tonight. Now, Amber is somebody who I`ve worked as well in this program, and we wish her the best right now. She`s the fourth cast member. She wanted to be here but was unable to join us.
You can catch up on her story when the "Teen Mom" new season premieres. That will be on Tuesday, July 5th at 10:00 p.m. on MTV. So, ladies, it is good to see you again. Thank you for coming out here and being a part of this. You know, you and I, we just did some reunion shows together. I know people, my viewers know this that I have participated in this show since the beginning, meeting with these girls at the end of their seasons and sort of recapping what`s going on.
And let me just ask you, first, how did you experience those reunion shows? And what did you think of me when I got involved with them? Was I scary guy that was going to --
CATELYNN LOWELL, STAR, MTV`S "TEEN MOM": you weren`t scary.
PINSKY: No. Maci thought I was scary.
MACI BOOKOUT, STAR, MTV`S "TEEN MOM": No. At first, I`m not one to like really let my guard down that easy.
PINSKY: I noticed that.
BOOKOUT: And I could feel you, like, looking right through me. So, I was just like, dang. He knows exactly what I`m thinking right now, and I`m going to have to tell him. That was little hard for me to get used to, but now, I know you`re good for me. So, it`s much easier for me to talk to you.
PINSKY: Farrah, you too?
FARRAH ABRAHAM, STAR, MTV`S "TEEN MOM": I thought that you helped us confront some of our, I guess, fears of growing up. So, with my mom`s relationship, I think you`ve helped that become stronger. So, I don`t know if you`ve helped some of the other girls, but you`ve helped me confront some things I needed to change.
PINSKY: Good, nice. And you know, I have great admiration for your mom. I know that you, guys, have been through a very tough situation, but she has been hanging in through all this. How are the babies? How`s Bentley?
BOOKOUT: He`s good.
PINSKY: I`m so disappointed he wasn`t here.
PINSKY: As you know, I wanted to see Bentley.
BOOKOUT: He is so cool.
PINSKY: He is where now?
BOOKOUT: He is with Kyle at home.
PINSKY: And Sophia, where is she?
ABRAHAM: With my mom.
PINSKY: And what is the latest on Baby Carly?
LOWELL: Oh, wow! She`s starting to talk a lot, and Theresa told me she`s starting to get a little bit aggressive. So, I think that`s a little bit of Tyler. Yes, she`s about to turn 2 on the --
PINSKY: You have to listen carefully to what Catelynn said. It`s the terrible 2s, but she`s blaming Tyler for how she`s behaving. And for people who don`t know, Catelynn gave her child up for adoption. It was a very difficult struggle. Something that she`s still contends with to this day, and it`s been a very illustrative story for young people that are contemplating that.
I want to go to some Facebook questions here. This is Jen W. and she asks, "What do you think your kids will say when they look back one day and view the "Teen Mom" video series? Catelynn has something to say.
LOWELL: OK. Well, I think my number one thing is, is I really look forward to sitting down all my children and showing them the whole show, because I feel like it will make them feel a little bit more comfortable to talk to me about having sex. And I think it will just all around help us talk to each other and --
PINSKY: And what will your message to be them when you have this conversation?
LOWELL: I`m going to really stress on, you know, helping them find -- use condoms, talk about how to use them, birth control if I have a girl. You know, take her to go get birth control --
PINSKY: Will you encourage them to delay?
LOWELL: Yes. I will definitely tell them to delay, but if they don`t --
ABRAHAM: You need to educate them.
LOWELL: Yes, then I need to educate them and let them know what to use if you are going to have sex.
PINSKY: Farrah, Maci, do you have answer to that question?
BOOKOUT: Well, for me, it`s kind of hard, because, you know, my struggle with Ryan, Bentley`s dad is, you know, back and forth. And I don`t want Bentley to see that and judge either one of us from what we did when we were 16, 17 years old, but I do know he`s going to see it, and I would much rather him see it with me and Ryan than see it somewhere else so that we can talk through the show.
PINSKY: That is a theme I want to get to tonight, maybe not at this moment, but as we go through the evening, which is you, guys, were kids when I first met you. Literally. Yes. And now, you`re young women and not just how would your perspective change looking back on it with your kids much later but how has your perspective changed now.
First, I want to go to another Facebook question. This is Tracy W. She asked, "What would you have been doing with your life had you not become pregnant at such a young age?" Farrah, I think you would have a lot to say about that one.
ABRAHAM: Well, I would have been moved away, you know, having my go away experience at college and, you know, come home and visit my parents and tell them what`s new with me and just focus on my education and that`s what I really missed. I mean, I missed that opportunity when I wasn`t thinking about myself and my education. So, I`m getting back on track, but it`s been a big delay. And I think we can all agree on that.
BOOKOUT: It`s a very big delay. I think for teenagers, yourself should be most important, because that`s what being a teenager is about. And for us, it all change. We`re no longer (INAUDIBLE) education has been put on hold. Our careers have been put on hold. Our relationship has gone to pieces, and you know, now, our child -- children`s lives are, you know, at stake. Like, they`re the ones paying for our mistake.
ABRAHAM: That`s what -- when you`re a parent and you`re growing into that responsibility. And they didn`t ask for any of it.
PINSKY: More wisdom and words of warning from the teen moms next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: Look. She`s scrunching up her nose a lot.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I used to do that when I was little. All the time. I used to always go -- I have so many pictures of her like that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That`s what I used to do. Isn`t it weird?
PINSKY: Look, look.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I need to get a picture of the two of you doing that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ever since I got pregnant, all I want to do is go to college.
LOWELL: When I have kids, I`m ready.
ABRAHAM: I wish I would have waited at least a good ten more years.
BOOKOUT: I love Bentley, but I would not wish a teen pregnancy on anybody.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I could have waited.
LOWELL: For more information on how to protect yourself --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: They are teen moms who know firsthand the hardships of having baby at such a young age. Now, I want to ask each of them to give me and my viewers some important information, but before I do, I want to pay out something I talked about earlier which was Farrah`s issue with a dark secret that she didn`t have a chance to really reveal to her biological father of the baby before he died and how you dealt with that grief.
ABRAHAM: By going through grief.
PINSKY: Did you go to grief management, a group therapy?
ABRAHAM: Therapy and just holding it in. And that`s what led to me, you know, going into depression and other things. And so, now, I deal with it by counseling.
PINSKY: I want you to give direct to camera to each of my viewers the single most important piece of advice about being a teen mom, this is for teenagers or moms, and how they should -- what you learned from that and what they can learn from you. Maci, let`s start with you.
BOOKOUT: I think that mothers should use our program for -- to open the conversation about sex, because it`s going to be much easier to have the hard conversation of sex than to have a very, very hard conversation in nine months.
PINSKY: Excellent. Farrah.
ABRAHAM: I`m urging mothers and dads who have teen parents right now or teen parents -- teens, before they become parents to watch this show, our "16 and Pregnant" and our teen mom shows to help open up the conversation so that they can prevent their teens, you know, getting in relationships and then ending up with a child while they`re still a child. I can`t even talk.
PINSKY: Love what you said, though. Catelynn.
LOWELL: Well, my number one thing would be for parents also is to teach your kids how to use protection if they are having sex and just try to be open with them and talk about everything. You know, if they`re having sex, if they`re using protection, and, you know, if they`re not having sex, I also feel like you should still teach your kids about condoms and birth control, even if they`re not having sex.
PINSKY: And by the way, let`s make this clear to parents out there. It is OK to tell your kids not to have sex. And I would encourage you to do so. Delaying is the goal here. That one of the big problems here, kids are having sexual relations before they are biologically, emotionally ready to manage this. Both the standpoint of planning the consequences and from dealing with all that ensues. You guys agree with me on that?
ABRAHAM: I agree.
LOWELL: Yes, I agree.
PINSKY: All right. Listen, I just want to wrap up with a couple points. First of all, thank you, Maci, Farrah, Catelynn, for joining us. Great to see you, guys, as always. Take care of those kids, Sophia and Bentley. I need to see that Bentley boy soon, too.
Now, my intention is not to demonize teen mothers, rather present the realities of children having children. It`s tough and it will be for a long time. Having a child is a life altering event, life altering event for anyone, especially teenagers. Parents, as we`ve said, please talk to your children about having babies and about physical relationships. It`s a conversation you will not regret.
Kids, stop and think hard about what you`re doing. That`s the purpose of this day. It`s not just your life that will be impacted. Another person, a child`s will, too. Thank you for watching. GO to CNN.com for my take on tonight`s show and you can comment there, too.