DS just revealed three year worry(5 Posts)
My lovely DS (17) has had an issue at school today that required school to ring me. They said he had posted something inappropriate on social media which had caused other people to be upset with him, including some of his friends, and has been put on a two day internal suspension for his actions. In the ensuing conversations with the Head and Head of Sixth Form, they realised that he was 'vulnerable' and have set up dialogue sessions/counselling options for him.
I am side swiped. I know that he has had issues with confidence in the past but have an open frank relationship with him - only last week he was discussing an issue with me regarding sex with his long term gf. He consistently under performs at school but is under very little pressure from home - he is loved and has a comfortable life, including access to a car to learn to drive, gym membership, orthodontics, clothes, phone - whatever he asks for within reason.
After the phone call from school, I talked with him to try to understand what had happened. After a lot of encouragement (but not bossiness or demanding) he told me that he has been worrying about an event that happened three years ago when he was in Yr 9. He had swapped messages with a girl which had grown flirtatious, she had sent him a picture of herself, and he, in turn, had sent an intimate picture back. The girl then turned out not to be a girl, but someone else in school (who has since left). The rumour of the photo then spread (although not the photo itself) and he has been worrying abut it ever since. Today, the rumour resurfaced from someone no longer at school, and in retaliation, he posted either a photo or an unpleasant comment about her, which has caused the problem today.
He now says that he thinks there is no point in trying to make something of himself, because if he did well, then this picture would resurface and undo any work he had done. I have tried to reassure him that people will realise that he was 14, we all do things that we regret from time, and that he is according more importance to this image than it deserves. I told him that he is very well loved and he needs to work on not letting this event shape his life, and that it may take time.
Am I right? How else can I help him? I have not been angry, just quiet and supportive - I really want to help him as much as possible. Will it just pass with school's help and support from home?
Does he know that it would be illegal for anyone to share, store or upload this photo? That if it did resurface, there are ways of getting it removed from the internet?
There's a video at the bottom of the page here www.thinkuknow.co.uk/parents/article-repository/Nude-selfies-a-parents-guide/ which might be reassuring?
I think if it has been 3 years and the person has left the school then the chances are that they no longer have the photo (people get new phones etc) and if it was going to come out it would have by now. But if it does, then the people sharing it are in the wrong, not him.
Does the school know about the real issue? The photo? If not he needs to tell them. They might be able to contact the school the girls at.
Exchanging, sharing and storing indecent images of a minor is a police matter really. I'm sure your son is aware of the law.
However sexting is very common at school despite the law. There will be other children in a similar boat.
Personally I would consider moving schools. A fresh start where no one knows him might be key.
Yes if his images are shared, it's a police matter. He was the victim in this
Fortunately, schools are now beginning to teach lessons on the dangers of sending 'nudes' etc which is good. Unfortunately, the message is 'don't do this' and there is nearly always going to be pupils sitting in the class who already have and who then have the living daylights scared out of them. The reality is that a) there are now hundreds of thousands of pictures like this floating around, most of which will never surface, b) if they do surface, the whole 'I sent nudes' thing will be so common for this generation that no one will really bat an eyelid about it and c) noble is probably right that the picture has probably been deleted by now. I think you are right to reassure you DS that it is highly unlikely to be a big issue in the future. In extreme cases there are ways to get search engines to remove photos from their links but it's unlikely to be needed.
I'd be worried about why the school described him as 'vulnerable' though. I think I might want to know what they meant by that.
NB should say that I'm not condoning sending nudes though as they can clearly cause distress and trouble - just that I don't think it will be a huge issue in the long run.
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