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To think every parent should educate themselves about 'sexting'

(44 Posts)
MamaBear17 Fri 12-Oct-12 09:06:45

Admittedly, I do not think I am bu, but this forum gets a lot of traffic and I just want as many people to read this as possible.

Presently, there is an increasing trend in young girls (as young as 12) sending inappropriate pictures of themselves to (equally as young) boys using mobile phones. In certain cases girls are succumbing to pressure from a boy that they like without really thinking about the consequences of sending the pictures. The pictures can be passed on and uploaded publicly in an instant. In certain cases, young boys who are asking for such pictures and applying emotional pressure to the young girls. In many cases boys are doing so in order to appear 'cool' but are not actually realising how predatory there actions can seem to an outsider. My concern is that popular public figures are having sex tapes leaked and only seeing there popularity increase, and that tv shows aimed at teenagers are glamorising 'sexy texting' making it seem like a 'normal' or 'gown up' thing to do.

Many parents will admit to be less technically savvy than their kids, which is why I am posting this. There is a real need for a conversation between parent and child regarding the emotional side of a relationship and respecting themselves when it comes to sex. I know most parents will know this, but often it is a conversation that is required much younger than you might realise. Often the children involved in this are not children who even realise that this pictures constitute sexual activity, but when it goes wrong, the emotional fall out is devastating.

I am certain that most schools will aim to tackle this issue in sex education. However, I think it is important for parents to be aware of this growing trend. I have attached a link to a good article below, and the CEOP video 'Think you know' on youtube is very good too.

Thank you for indulging me, I hope I do not get flamed, I cant go into the reasons that have prompted this post but I just feel like I need to say something in case other parents arent aware.


samandi Fri 12-Oct-12 10:04:50

Oops, I meant a smart phone. My old knackered phone does take kind of grainy photos :-)

MamaBear17 Fri 12-Oct-12 10:08:17

daisydoodoo, if you have evidence that the girl and her bf is harassing him you should contact the police. What has happened to your son is kind of my point, your son didn't realise that his actions could be perceived in a negative way because he thought it was innocent flirting. We have to protect all children from themselves sometimes, because they are engaging in sexualised behaviour that they are not emotionally ready for. I dont know how, currently I am working as part of a team who is trying to figure out what role schools should play and how we should go about educating young people. In your case, if the girl attends his school I would argue that they have a duty of care to your son as he is being persecuted by other pupils in the same school.

missymoomoomee Fri 12-Oct-12 10:24:02

If you are part of a team trying to sort this problem then I don't think your post should be so blatently one sided tbh. Its not just boys pressuring girls, its both sexes, and it worries me that if this is part of your job to look how to educate schools about it that you are so one sided about it.

I have a son and daughters and it really bothers me how boys are seen as sexual deviants who are after one thing while girls are seen as just wanting to get a boy to like her.

MamaBear17 Fri 12-Oct-12 10:32:50

I have said over and over that I am not being one sided. At all. If you read the article I posted you will see that there is a trend that is establishing itself. I have said several times that both boys and girls are at risk through this trend. Generally, it is girls whose images end up in the public domain, but that isn't to say that they are innocent. Both boys and girls need to understand how to respect themselves and each other when it comes to sex. They also need to understand the consequences of sending, and asking for, images.

missymoomoomee Fri 12-Oct-12 10:42:04

there is an increasing trend in young girls (as young as 12) sending inappropriate pictures of themselves to (equally as young) boys using mobile phones.

In certain cases girls are succumbing to pressure from a boy that they like without really thinking about the consequences of sending the pictures

In many cases boys are doing so in order to appear 'cool' but are not actually realising how predatory there actions can seem to an outsider

How is that not a one sided view? I know its a trend just now and have taken many steps to prevent my kids doing it, but I wouldn't be happy if any of the above statements from your post were to be taught to my children in school.

wheresmyheartat Fri 12-Oct-12 10:55:17

Having conversations with your children about what is appropriate is ineffective.
Remind them instead of what is illegal.

Child grooming (telling him/her to send a picture to show they love you)

Distribution of sexual images of children (passing it round to their mates).

Making of sexual images of children (getting the child to take the picture or taking it yourself).

These offenders are mostly under age and won't go to prison but I think that a frank discussion about the Law might be an effective deterrent.

Don't forget that behind that 15 year old there may be a 40 year old paedophile friend looking for new clients.

Sorry to be so brutal about it but the head in the sand attitude of schools and police and the ignored parents (possibly Maryz has had a similar experience to mine and has just given up?) is making me very angry.

Our children are being seriously neglected.

MamaBear17 Fri 12-Oct-12 11:03:37

In certain cases - certain, not all cases. At no point have I said that it is always the case. However, I have not yet dealt with a case of a boy sending a picture to a girl at her request. That is not to say that it doesn't happen, however, given the evidence that I have in front of me a girl is more likely to send a picture of herself than the other way around. The above statements also highlight that girls are doing so without thinking about the consequences and a boy doesn't realise that asking for a picture can be construed in a more sinister way than they mean it to be.
The problem with this issue is every case is different. There is no one message you can teach that will solve the problem. Schools do not know how to tackle this issue, and whilst we use agencies like CEOP to highlight the dangers of putting images on-line there is no 'one size fits all' answer. As a parent I would hope that, like you, I will take the steps to ensure my kids are protected because there is a fine line between what the school is responsible for in terms of sex education.

ZiggyPlayedGuitar Fri 12-Oct-12 11:13:06

Yanbu at all! DS is only 2 so I don't have to worry about it yet but I know I will be keeping a v close eye on what he does with his phone and Internet use when he's older.
I remember being around 11-12 and going on chat forums to talk 'dirty' to the boys (I had no idea what I was talking about!)
I also remember having several strangers that I would text/email/MSN with, I'd tell them all sorts of details about my life, where I lived etc. most of them admitted to being older men but that just made it more fun for me at the time.
My parents had no clue about any of it. Makes me shiver when I think about what could have happened!

socharlotte Fri 12-Oct-12 11:56:00

'I have not yet dealt with a case of a boy sending a picture to a girl at her request'

but what about cases where a girl sends an unsolicited picture of herself to a boy ? That is a case I have most definitely heard of

MamaBear17 Fri 12-Oct-12 12:50:24

I have heard of those cases too, but I have not had personal experience. I think in those cases boys need to know how to protect themselves. As one poster has described from personal experience, if texts and photos are exchanged mutually, there is the opportunity for the girl involved to make herself out to be a victim if things do not go her way. One of the CEOP videos deals with blackmail. In the video the example is of a threat to make the pictures public if more are not sent which is common. I do agree that it goes both ways and that every case is different. My original reason for posting was to suggest parents need to educate themselves about this issue and take steps to empower and educate their children in order to protect them.

daisydoodoo Fri 12-Oct-12 14:22:55

unfortunatley i think many parents find out what has been happening too late and after the event or when they need help as its got out of hand.

I really don't know what has happened in the last few years that teenagers are now finding it funny to send personal pictures to each other. I had always thought that we had a fairly open relationship and could discuss anything with each other. I have always made sure that i didn't impose my views on my children with regard to sex. But have i gone too far by not making sex taboo, did that mean that my sons guards were down and he didn't see it as immoral and illegal?
When discussing sex with a teenager my main concerns were tbh stis and unwanted pregnancy, we talked about not just humping aything that moved or was on offer and it really is better to be in a relationship and a natrual progression rather than a quick shag, but in doing so was i right?

ds now faces a miserable last year at school as hes got the blame while the girl has moved areas and will be joining a new school away from all the trouble, whispers and name calling and effectivley getting away with it scott free.

wheresmyheartat Fri 12-Oct-12 16:32:51

The trouble is there are no apparent dangers that teenagers can grasp or make sense of. They know they're not going to meet a stranger they met on the internet, they know they're not actually touching anyone so there are no risks of STIs or pregnancy, they know that what they do isn't physical.

What they don't know is that grooming is a criminal offence and distributing sexual images of children is as well. This is what they need to teach in schools, not 'the dangers of ...'. In recent years, teenagers have been taught less about morals and more about the physical aspects of sex - rape, STIs, pregnancy. All around them they see 'girlies' and are told this is an industry, there's money in it etc, you too could be this beautiful. While their parents worry about constraining their identity by forcing them with morals (myself included) they end up drifting into the murky world of blurred boundaries, where words are textspeak, identities are avatars and portraits are bodies.

It's all very sad.

ladybugged Thu 17-Jan-13 16:46:53

Im pretty sure my 13 year old gal has done it. I "accidentally" (ok she left her FB open - I dont stalk usually) saw something about it on one of her chats. A boy sending one of his HUGE you know what was discussed as well. Holy crap! All so darn young! Actually Im aware of another school friend (female) who did it & was found out by her mum. So clearly its commonplace.
When I discussed it with dd she said its really stupid & she'd NEVER do it. Yehh right......
All the discussing,leadership,advice etc wont stop em doing what they can get away with if they can. Its so sad. Bloody internet/mobile phones. I guess its the modern equivelant of flashing behind the bike shed at school Not that I ever did that!

dexter73 Thu 17-Jan-13 20:43:37

There was a huge to-do at my dd's school when a 13 yr old girl sent a video of herself masturbating to several boys. The boys got in huge trouble for having the video on their phones but the girl didn't get in trouble for sending it.

OhMerGerd Fri 18-Jan-13 05:48:40

It is a big problem. Boys and girls are vulnerable. It's an extension of the highly sexualised world this generation of teens have grown up in. The private and the public sphere are blurred because of the technology of social media and the internet. This group have hit puberty with all the normal hormonal and brain changes, risk taking behaviour, lusts and joy for life at a time when the rules are being developed, new rules for a sexual sphere that is as different from our youth( 70's 80's 90's) as the pill generation was from the Victorians. I have two DD with 7 year gap. The change in even this short period is huge, smartphones, bbm, Skype, FaceTime, Facebook, twitter, blogs, vlogs etc etc. In the past your mistakes were a local issue, embarrassment could be confined to a small group and the gossip would die out like Chinese whispers as the next scandal took hold. You could move on. Grow up. Forget. Today there is no escape. Migrate to the other side of the world and before you get off the plane your new classmates can have viewed the video, swapped the pictures and be ' friends' with your ex back home.
The shit hasn't even started to hit the fan yet for these kids- the ones who are 11 to 18/19 today. Everything online lives on somewhere ready to be resurrected in the future. It's this group, unguarded, without the new rule book to support and protect them that will be bringing the test cases to the courts.
Really as parents we shouldn't be worrying about whether boys or girls are more to blame. They are all 'involved', if they live in the social media, web world. We need to wise up, face reality and as the adults with political and commercial power start discussing how we can help our young people develop a social and moral code that will see them through into the next chapter of their lives.

Well that's me off my soapbox for today! Sorry to rant but this is the one issue that keeps me awake at night at the moment. It's even pushed GCSE's and a levels down the agenda...

Fianccetto Fri 18-Jan-13 07:15:03

Ohmergard, a very wise post, thank you. This about sums up my views about it. Sensible parents taking phones off sensible children won't solve this. We as a society need to stop treating this as if it is all happening to someone else, or all about our own children, or only interested in one aspect of one case and come up with some workable policies, guidelines and laws.

What if there were a national policy or even a law that no child can have a smart phone on school property right up to end of GCSEs. So not allowed until sixth form. This could be extended to other activites, such as Scouts/Guides, swimming (and other sports) clubs, and so on.

Phone companies should be involved in coming up with phones without cameras or internet access which are still appealing and easy to use, and could have a national 'school approved' logo on them, so schools can say only phones with that logo allowed.

If parents still want their children to have a smart phone out of school so they can use apps, or keep up with technology, they do so at home. Tablets seem a better idea for this, and are less portable, less photo friendly.

Fianccetto Fri 18-Jan-13 07:23:06

What I'm proposing is something like an extension of a school's uniform policy, but set on a national level, by parliament. It would be interesting to know what the youth parliament can come up with, and ideas for helping parents set workable boundries on tablets, home desktops, laptops, phones and other devices.

OhMerGerd Fri 18-Jan-13 11:57:27

Yes I do think as parents we should be lobbying for some sort of national guidance. The 'you can't police the web' argument needs challenging more robustly. Why have PG, 18 etc classifications on games, film and bleeps on the swear words in music played on the radio when any 11 ( and younger) year old can access it all from their phone or their iPod? If we still agree as a nation that 16 is the age of consent for sex, and 18 marks the age of adulthood and the legal age for drinking and participating in civic society via the vote then let's make sure that the legislation and regulation of the web etc supports this.
Its an hypocrisy otherwise which adds to young people confusion of what is normal, healthy and morally sound and what is not. Seriously if your child is rising 10, this is your issue. Unless you are living in a teepee in the woods, home schooling and with no access to modern technology, your child is, ( note - not will be, but is) involved and affected. And they are encouraged, seduced, aided and abetted to begin their sexual life in a virtual and secret place which is open to abuse. Found nothing suspect on their devices? Check how often they are browsing incognito!
I'm not a prude but I do believe in giving young people rules and boundaries. It helps them to frame their emerging sexual life in a context that is not dominated by the vested interests of commercial enterprises ( including the porn, drink,fashion , music and film industries) and the confused and subjective views of their peers. Yes of course they rail against it and it's stressful at times but that's what being a parent is about.

Fianccetto Sat 19-Jan-13 09:06:58

'I have not yet dealt with a case of a boy sending a picture to a girl at her request'

So? What if there's a 40 year old paying her for that picture?

And what is happening to this generation of boys? Are they growing up with a predilection for images of young girls (or, if they're gay, boys)? Are we, as a society, by allowing this, creating more paedophiles, due to neglect? These boys are just as much victims of our neglect.

How do you answer the retort that it doesn't matter, that they're only images and can't hurt anyone, that it is the law that needs to change to make this legal (as it is in some other countries) and we all need to accept that some children will do this (as some children have underage sex, always have)?

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