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I need to talk to them about sexting - how? Help please

(70 Posts)
TheOriginalSteamingNit Mon 28-Jan-13 14:18:41


I looked in my dd's diary yesterday - not proud, very ashamed, wish I hadn't but maybe it's for the best. Her boyfriend (they are ELEVEN) has sent her some dubious messages and photos - without going into too much detail, it's not on. It is unclear what she's sent him, if anything, but I'm worried.

Things now click into place - she's started closing her door at night when she used to like it open, she has her iPod touch with her at all times, she hides the screen from anyone else in the room. I thought she was just growing up, but I now think it's probably not so innocent.

This is a child who's always been terribly earnest and innocent - I am utterly taken aback, and I feel very conscious of having let her down and not covered this properly. Her sister is older, but having just been googling recent articles and statistics on this, I think she probably needs the talk too.

However, I can't kick off by saying I've read her diary - I know some might say I should, but I'm not going to. But I do obviously need to talk to her. I'm thinking - and hoping it won't be too transparent - of saying I heard a thing on Woman's Hour about this and that it made me think I ought to speak to them about it: do they know what sexting is, do they know how serious.... etc.

What do you reckon?
I don't need to be told I've been getting this wrong - I know. I'm ashamed and very concerned, and now I want to do whatever is best.

MrsMushroom Tue 29-Jan-13 11:05:34

Personally I think the first mistake you made was in allowing her to have a "Boyfriend"

No child of 11 is ready for a boyfriend and all that the title suggests. Even if it's in "name" only and they're just holding hands....allowing the relationship puts pressure on her.

I think if it were me, I would talk to her about the "boyfriend" and tell her she may have him as a friend but not as a partner in that sense.

Also, speak to her about your don't have to mention that you looked on her messages.

Tell her that the reason is that you feel 11 is too young for the things which come along a boyfriend...that you've heard all about sexting and that she's too young for things like that and too young for anything remotely attached to sex.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Tue 29-Jan-13 11:07:40

MrsM have you read what notso said about her mother taking a similar approach about boyfriends? That makes a lot of sense to me.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Tue 29-Jan-13 11:07:59

(as does everything else you say, notso - thank you)

Pourquoimoi Tue 29-Jan-13 11:08:57

I know a yr7 girl who's mum found messages saying she love a boy so much she "wanted to suck his balls dry" shock. She spoke to a teacher friend who said it was fairly standard these days but most of it was just 'talk'.

DS1 is yr7, hasn't got Facebook yet but has an ipad and Internet enabled phone. He knows that the deal is that I can check both whenever I want and I know the passwords for both.

I do check the iPad and often ask him if there is anything at all on his phone that I would be unhappy about, that prompts him to tell me everything even things like "I told whoever to piss off because they said x", if he says there is nothin on there I tend to say I trust you and won't look then. He is very honest and I do trust him, I hope that lasts.

That said, we have agreed last night that I am going to buy him an alarm clock this afternoon so that his phone and ipad come out of his room at lights out at 9.30. He is constantly being disturbed by kids texting him at 10.30 shock and is suffering with tiredness.

Good luck, I think we're ok here but it's a tricky time.

Scoobyblue Tue 29-Jan-13 11:16:55

I think that you should definitely inform the boy's parents - obviously it is up to them how they deal with it but they are probably as much in the dark as you were until a couple of days ago. If it was the other way round and you didn't know that your child was sending inappropriate messages and pictures to another child, I'm sure that you would want to made aware of it so that you could deal with it in an appropriate way. You don't have to be confrontational or accusatory, just let them know what is happening.

PuffPants Tue 29-Jan-13 11:24:55

I'm years off having to deal with this (horror) but I feel certain I would contact the boy's parents about it.

God, why do they need phones at all? I keep hoping its a phase and FB will die a death soon and schools (and parents) will ban phones before mine are that age.

ExitPursuedByABear Tue 29-Jan-13 11:31:21

At 11 I would not have let DD have private stuff on phones and FB - she is 13 now and I know that stuff goes on that I probably wouldn't like, but we have a no phones or laptops in room overnight rule which she mostly adheres to.

I found a note in her blazer pocket yesterday which left me reeling, saying she had still not really got over J and that she and M had finished after 3 months. As far as I am aware she has never had a boyfriend confused. A lot of this boyfriend stuff is all on social media, and they never actually meet up - but I have had the sexting talk with her and she claims no one at her school does it. Yeah right!

On this note it also said "Bisexual and Proud" [double] confused

I lie awake at night worrying about what the future holds for our teenagers......

notso Tue 29-Jan-13 11:32:04

TheOriginalSteamingNit I am so pleased you found my advice useful, this is a horrible stage, I would rather deal with 10 tantrumming 2 year olds than one hormonal pre-teen!
I really feel we have turned things around with DD and I think most of it has been down to reducing her screen time.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Tue 29-Jan-13 11:38:22

I've emailed dp so we're on the same page here - headline is no more iPod after bedtime, united front, that's that.

And talk again, but in as non-confrontational way as we can, about the issues.

The thing is, she hardly uses her phone - and her iPod was initially used for listening to music, watching Stand By Me an awful lot, and playing that Rat on a Bike game - so we have obviously viewed it as far more of an innocent tool than it really is, which is our mistake. We'd never have let her take the iPad to bed, or her laptop - which she always asks if she can use first anyway! But this sodding iPod is a bit of a snake in the woods, due to our naivete and her rapid growing up in the time between getting it and now.

Notso that is very, very encouraging to hear smile

notso Tue 29-Jan-13 11:58:58

Yes definately good to have a united front on this, (my parents certainly didn't Dad was very shouty, agressive and intolerant of everything, Mum was prudish and easily broken).
Another top tip is to make friends with the 'enemy', if there are any friends girls or boys DD wants to meet in town/at the cinema etc that DH and I don't like the sound of (we check them out on DD's facebook) we always invite them round for tea or just to hang out for a couple of hours before we agree to her meeting them unsupervised, it's not always a joyful experience but it stops them becoming forbidden and exciting.

pixi2 Tue 29-Jan-13 12:11:06

I would take a slightly different approach.

Invest in hot chocolates and their favourite cake. Put the whole cake in the table. Kick everyone else out. Tv and radio off. ask them to put their phones out of reach. Say you need a girlie chat with them as the adults they are now turning into.

Start with positives, how proud you are of the people they are turning into, how you trust them, etc

State your concerns and invite them to discuss web safety. How could they protect themselves? What would/could/does make them uncomfortable. Point out that emotions are attached to relationships and sex, it isn't as straightforward as the media makes out. Go off track onto films and the media if the conversation goes that way.

Above all, keep a slice of cake on their plate at all times. Be calm, patient and listen.

Maybe you could do this every now and again. Remind them that they can talk to each other as well as you.

shine0ncrazydiamond Tue 29-Jan-13 13:02:53


I'd have her ipod and phone and laptop and whatever else off her immediately and I'd be having a strong word with her. I'd also disable her FB account - why does she have one at her age?

I agree with a previous poster. At this age it is time to assert yourself as a parent and remove the technology that is enabling her to carry on like this instead of enabling her to do it by pussy footing around her.

My DD is 15 this year. I check her FB from time to time to satisfy myself that all is as it should be. She knows I do this and I will continue to do so for a while longer. I rarely check her phone these days. I do this not because I am nosy and want to read a load of 'squeeeing' messages but because it is my job to keep her safe.

I wouldn't give a second thought to making yourself unpopular. Confiscate this stuff full stop for now.

shine0ncrazydiamond Tue 29-Jan-13 13:04:02

Pixi - that all sounds very woo and nice but it wouldn't work in this house grin My DD would think I'd gone mad.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Tue 29-Jan-13 13:42:45

I explained earlier why she and many of her friends have facebook accounts smile.

I've also said we are removing the iPod at night, which is what she is using.

I don't think we are pussyfooting, and I hope nothing I've said suggests that I'm more worried about making myself unpopular in the short term than I am about safety. However, at the same time I think maintaining a reasonably friendly footing is worth a lot in the long term too.

MrsMushroom Tue 29-Jan-13 14:04:31

I maintain that 11 is too young for a boyfriend. no 11 year old is ready for sex or the kind of closeness that a boyfriend might want.

I also maintain that at 11, children need to be told "no" about things like this...never mind the fear of pushing them away...there's nothing that needs to be going on anyway. As long as you remain open and unafraid about broaching sex as a disccussion, they'll still come to you.

shine0ncrazydiamond Tue 29-Jan-13 14:12:51

I really wouldn't give a second thought to remaining on a friendly footing with her. That really is a given, you're her parent so you're going to have periods of unpopularity and it doesn't matter.

I'd suspend FB. I wouldn't care that all her friends have it. She can't handle it can she? She is getting herself in a pickle with stuff she cannot emotionally deal with and you need to stop that.

There would be an immediate stop putting to her having a boyfriend - at 11? Yes, fine, if it is all innocent etc...but you now know it isn't. So, tell her straight... no more boyfriends, no more ipod touch and no more FB and you'll rethink it when she is 13.

This is how I'd deal with it - although I appreciate that I can be very black and white. However, if it is any consolation my DD at nearly 15 doesn't hate me smile

MrsMushroom Tue 29-Jan-13 14:17:13

Me too shine OP it's about protecting your child. She's a child. Sex is NOT something children need to be involved in.

sununu Tue 29-Jan-13 14:30:21

can I just observe that a curfew on phone usage may not be at all effective? sexting can happen any time of day.. reminds me that our mum forbade my sister to take her boyfriend upstairs, thinking sex happens in bedrooms - they did it in the dining room with a chair under the door instead (I know, nice)

exasperatedemma Tue 29-Jan-13 14:32:07

my DD is 13 and when she got FB a couple of years ago, the condition was that she made me a 'friend'. All good as I could keep an eye on some of the stuff being posted etc, However, she barely uses it now as she and most of her friends think it is outdated and they all use Twitter. I used to worry about FB. But not as much as Twitter. Worryingly they can private message strangers if they both 'follow' each other. She assures me that she only does this with friends but there are a lot of Twitter users out there posting pics of themselves looking like a good looking teen boy and god knows who they might be in reality. As far as I know, there is no way of monitoring this - I can see what she tweets but no way of seeing the private messages. Then there's Tumblr and all the other social media websites they are on! AAARGH! I hate the fact that you can't put parental controls on Apple stuff, only very restrictive ones which are difficult to live with. I agree with Maryz, this generation are going to be horrified in their twenties when they look back at the stuff that is permanently on the net.

sandyballs Tue 29-Jan-13 14:37:32

Jeez this is interesting but scary. I have two 11 year olds girls. Both begging for Facebook but I have told them it is illegal until they are 13. I am apparently hindering their social lives by doing this as EVERYONE has Facebook at secondary school and they can't possibly make any new friends without it!

Oh well.

Boys have featured more since sept with one of them asking a lad 'out' and being 'rejected'. Not sure where they were planning to go, think its just talk of 'going out'.

I have talked about sexting briefly but they both gave the impression of having no idea what I was talking about. I'm not so sure now I've read this!

What kind of pictures were they OP? This is all so difficult, I would broach it generally, perhaps in the car where she can't get away. Good luck. They all seem older than when we were 11.

shine0ncrazydiamond Tue 29-Jan-13 14:38:25

You also say that you are very ashamed to have looked at her diary. Why? Again, you're doing your job. You are not snooping at your 17 year old DDs journal - you'd be on dodgy ground there! But your young child.

I'd assert and whip this stuff off her once and for all and brace yourself for the moaning

TheOriginalSteamingNit Tue 29-Jan-13 14:40:35

Nothing is 100%, is it? Ban the iPod after bedtime - they spend suspiciously long times in the bathroom with it earlier. Tell them they are simply not to have a 'boyfriend' - they take no notice and spend all day together at school anyway. Keep their fb password, be their friend on facebook, don't let them be on facebook - they create new accounts and don't tell you.

I do think you have to balance pragmatics, discipline, honesty and safety, and I do think that with some extreme reactions there's a danger that you can cultivate an atmosphere of worse secrecy and deceit than ever. I've seen it go that way too.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Tue 29-Jan-13 14:43:53

Sorry, a few posts in the meantime.

I think she should be allowed a diary in which she can vent, in which she can say her sister is a bitch and sometimes she hates her parents, and she didn't do very well at a Maths test, and feel that it is private. I don't think though that it is as simple as me thinking 'well dd is entitled to privacy, so I wash my hands of it and don't look', any more than I think all her thoughts, feelings and indeed messages are up for grabs.

sandy haven't seen - I think his chest and some of his bits, but I can't see them.

CheeseStrawWars Tue 29-Jan-13 14:48:20

I dread DD hitting the teenage (or even pre-teenage!) years. I can't speak from experience but can you ask her why she thinks he wants these pictures? He's not going to stare lovingly into the eyes of her photo, is he? That's not what boys want topless photos for... And once he's got photos in digital form, how would she feel if those photos got seen by his mates? Or if one of his mates snatched the boys phone off him and then sent the picture round loads of other people. Has she thought this through? Does she like the idea of him - or random people - 'objectifying' her? Could you make it a broader conversation about objectification and respect, and sidle up on it that way?

Also, maybe have a chat with her about making sure things move at a pace she's happy with - it sounds like he keeps pushing for more than he's getting and she's not really dealing with it directly, just changing the subject? If she says no and he calls her frigid or whatever... he's not the boy for her. (Not that any boy should be for her at 11, but you get what I mean... boys should respect her, she should respect herself and not be afraid to say no.)

secretscwirrels Tue 29-Jan-13 16:02:31

A boy was permanently excluded from a local school and several girls were suspended. Even though the activity took place outside school.
So not all schools shrug and say "it happens"

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