Hi everyone, I would like to open a discussion on sexting.
I have noticed that this section isn't viewed very often so I shall be posting a similar post on other sections on MN.
It was anti-bullying week last week and the sixth form at my dd's school were very pro active on the subject of bullying and most of the staff wore anti bullying t-shirts. But to my horror they didn't cover the subject of sexting, which according to many organizations comes under the heading of bullying but I think it should also be covered by internet safety as well as some others.
As parents, how many of you are REALLY AWARE of what sexting is???
In it's most basic form it is our children sending picture messages, or "selfies" to other people (or webcam pics). In it's most harmful form it's adults, posing as children getting our children to send explicit pictures of themselves. The later being a parents worst nightmare and what we all try to protect our children from. Fortunatly most of us will never have to encounter the later form because we constantly tell our children about people pretending to be children and not to share any personal info with these stranger because you don't know who they could be as they are hiding behind a computer screen. But the most common form, the one we are most likely to come across is when our (mostly) young teens send picture to each other! No not, nasty peodophiles preying on inoccent kids but other kids.
Sexting is becoming more and more common amongst our youngsters yet unless you specifically search for information on this subject there seems to be little information for parent and even less appropriate info for our children. Now I don't know about you guys but I don't spend my time looking on the NSPCC web site for updates on potential threats to my kids? But I do keep an eye on news and I don't seem to remember seeing much about this subject, I would like to have it rammed down my throat until I'm sick of hearing about it! The NSPCC do have an app and a campaign but I only found out about it because I went looking.
This is a bit of a personal crusade for me and I shall give you a very brief outline of why. My dd, then 13, became a victim of sexting. She met a young man (same age). He gave it all the flannel about I love you ect and if you loved me you would send me explicit pictures of yourself, when she declined he told her he would use pictures of other girls he had and tell everyone they were her. Against her better judgment she finally gave in and sent pictures. He then used these images to blackmail her into sexual acts which he filmed (without her knowledge) and then used this against her. She was in a very bad place by this time and I had noticed a change in her so we had a talk and it all came out. We agreed she would not see the young man again so he retaliated and let's just say the pics and video went viral and everyone knew!! We contacted the police to which we had very mixed messages, one officer telling us the lad would be arrested and basically have the proverbial book thrown at him to another officer saying that our dd would be prosecuted for sending the images. Finally we got it sorted, the police visited him and made him delete the images and he was served with a no contact order. Sadly the damage was already done. The result was that the school refused to help, she was attacked at school because she was clearly a slag and a slut and deserved all she got! We were visited by social services because we contacted the police! And she felt so bad she suffered from depression. She self harmed and had feelings towards ending her life. The knock on effect on our family unit was awful and the upshot was that we sold up and moved away. She has missed out on a year of schooling but has now settled in a new school and is doing well. She has had to delete her whole life prior to our move so that her new friends don't find out but with the way social media is we can't be sure that no one will ever find out. It has been my dd that has prompted this crusade. She has come home from school and has told me that this is happening all around her, boys soliciting the images and girls supplying them. They are then shared!!
I would like for our experience to help others, children as well as parents.
The legal side is that it is illegal to hold explicit images of any one under the age of 18. It is also illegal to send explicit images of yourself or others. By my reckoning this makes at least 50 per cent of our teenage population criminals. What's more if they were to be convicted they would be sex offenders and could be placed on the sex offenders register, their life already over! The likely hood of a prosecution taking place is very slim but is still the legal angle. I would hate for my dd to have been prosecuted and not all the boys who are asking for theses images are as bad as the one my daughter encountered and although I would have liked to see him get what he deserved he was just a child and I believe in karma!These kids are just exploring their sexuality but are using the mediums available to them ie camera phones, web cams. They seem to have the view that because they take the pictures in private on THEIR device and send it to one person on their private device, that no one else will see them.
I think there should be a pro active campaign to educate the younger generation about the hazards. Some of the stuff I've found is a little childish for our teens, purely telling them not to do it. This isn't enough, nor is it enough to tell them that it's illegal. We've all been there, caving in to peer pressure. Smoking, drinking even trying drugs and I'm sure I wasn't prepared to listened to some do gooder telling me it was illegal and bad for you.
I would really love to hear from parents who have encountered sexting and parents who knew nothing about this. I would also like to hear from you if you have any good ideas as to how would be the best way to address this issue.
Please don't bother with the negative comments, it's water off a ducks back. You can't say anything about my parenting skill that I haven't thought about them myself, we've been to hell and back and just want to help others. You will not get a response from me to negative comments. Good discussion points only.
Thanks for reading.
I'm sorry that this has happened to your family OP, it sounds like an absolute nightmare.
I have four teens and once they started accessing the internet I began talking to them regularly about staying safe online, which has included discussions about sexting. I don't mean that we have big family discussions, but I draw their attention to relevant stories in the media and repeatedly tell them not to send any sort of photo or message unless they would be happy for the whole world to see it; so far they have stayed sensible and safe but I am not complacent.
Their various schools have actually been very good at delivering this same message, and they have had various talks and assembles on this subject.
Over the years there have been several cases of girls doing what your DD did and sadly they have been ridiculed at school, not for being sluts but for being daft. Teenagers are not known for their empathy. The guys who share the photos are also criticised but of course don't have to deal with the shame and embarrassment of having intimate photos made public.
I hope that your DD can leave this awful experience behind her and that the boy in question gets a double dose of karma; if he was mine he wouldn't have any technology available to him for a very long time.
Adeucalione thanks for reply. I too have had many talks with my daughter about not doing exactly what she then went on to do. I have also been talking to my 7 year old ds about being safe, just the basics at the moment as he doesn't have much access to the internet and despite his constant plee's will not be getting a mobile phone anytime soon!
My dd was very brave yesterday and spoke to her form tutor about the subject and asked if they could do an assembly on it.
Unfortunately unlike yourself there seems to be a lot of parents who aren't aware of this either that or their not talking to their kids about it. I'm a strong believer in parents should be responsible for talking to their kids about things but schools should also play their part especially for the kids who's parents don't talk to their kids. From what I've been hearing there's quite a lot of those!
I'm really glad that your children have a parent like you and that their schools are on the ball, but that's not the case for all. Keep up the good work perhaps you could share how you approached the subject with your children and how you keep an eye on their safety? That could probably be really helpful to some parents. Sometimes these types of subjects can be difficult to approach especially if you don't use the right language and if your not tech savvy. If you don't know the name of the apps they use or the terminology then a conversation can break down quite quickly.
If I hadn't noticed the changes in my dd's behavior and hadn't spoken to her I don't think I would have known what was going on. She has always been able to talk to me and always has done so, but I think my biggest mistake was letting her know I didn't like the lad so she said she didn't feel like she could talk to me about his demands and ask my advice as she knew how I felt.
A massive learning curve for myself and dd and I'm sharing this to show others the dangers of sexting.
I'm so sorry to hear about you and your daughters experience! Unfortunately it's happening far more than most people seem to be aware of and it can happen all too easily with some truly awful consequences - as I'm sure you know.
I actually create a deliver courses to schools on Online Reputation Management. These show students how what they are putting on social networking sites and so on can effect their employment chances, applications and future careers but I also cover subjects such as cyber bullying and sexting!
I target both points of view, from the victims and the 'encouragers' (if you like?).
Schools and pupils really benefit from these sessions and I get some great feedback. I'm pretty sure every school would have the sessions if they could but of course there are funding issues for some.
We are currently doing all we can to help schools get funding and we have done some sessions free of charge in the past. Parents can also sign up for group parent sessions at a small fee per person if they require a more info about sexting and other relative subjects.
These subjects should almost be mandatory in schools for parents, students and teachers. The rate of suicides going up due to sexting and bullying is devastating and everyone needs to have a better understanding on how to avoid, tackle and recover.
I really enjoy doing the sessions, I'm 22 and have had some similar experiences myself so the children tend to listen a bit more! I'm really hoping we can start doing more.
This is a huge issue for parents at the moment and doesn't have anything like the profile it needs. Parents need to wise up fast to this threat. I've been there with my 12yo dd and even though i think we nipped it in the bud the aftermath has been so stressful and damaging (including police involvement). I don't know how much the sexting and sequelae are responsible but she now self harms and is on the brink of developing an eating disorder.
Sorry, don't know how to link but students at school are informed about the 'CEOP' website. Some useful videos on there to inform all.
Hello WhenWeMet and all
I registered to reply to this thread as I believe it is SO important to bring this into the wider media and get our young people educated and aware... parents too. I too have had problems with my dd replying to dirty messages from boys... despite the fact that we have been there before and the end result involved the police, huge upset and me taking her out of school.She is due to start a new school in 2 weeks, and have allowed facebook again, only to find a boy from the new school is talking dirty to her and asked her to post pics!! She is falling for it AGAIN.And lapping it up as if he really cares. I have talked till im blue in the face about the dangers, and told her this is a fresh start away from what happened before.
She has low self confidence and experienced so much bullying at her old school, both before and after the sexting thing. She self harmed and wanted to die, but been better for a couple of months. Can see it all starting again.
We too are moving to get away for a fresh start, we should be moving in around a month, but whats the bloody point if it will all start again??
We have been through so much upset.
HOW do I let her know she doesnt need to do this to get people to like her?
I'm a BBC journalist, and I hope you don't mind but I was reading this threat on 'sexting' as I am myself researching a story about this issue.
I am looking at the extent to which incidents of 'sexting' are dealt with or come to the attention of schools, and what action is taken to help support children and raise awareness of this issue.
I would be interested to hear your thoughts on the extent to which you think most parents are aware of sexting and how prevalent it is?
Annecdotally, parents I've spoken to seem to range from never having heard of the term, to being pretty clued up about it - and everything inbetween it seems.
I'd welcome any thoughts!
Thanks very much all.
P.S If anyone would like to get in touch directly please feel free - my direct email address is Emma.Vardy@BBC.co.uk
Hi Emma, you may get more response if you post in the teenagers section. I posted 2 months ago here and no reply! This is an issue I think needs more attention and awareness for both parents and teens.
I have found similar messages on my sons phone tonight. I am sitting here absolutley raging and feeling sick waiting for him to come home. This has been very helpful to read, He is only 12 and there were no images but I saw messages from him asking girls for them. I am trying to decide how best to deal with this. Lot's of these girls are from far and wide and definetly not at his school. He knew the rules were that he was only to have friends he knows and that I would be checking his phone. I am going to try and calmly explain to him the consequences and that legal information definetly will help. I agree these teens need educated I feel sick with worry tonight over this.
I am so sorry that this happened to you!
Thank you for informing us about it. I really hope your girl is alright now. That must have been extremely difficult.
I've told my children again and again about internet safety, but non elf them seem to take it seriously. The consequences can be so hard.
Teenagers now a days need education on the dangers out there.
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