… In order for us to address sexting in a realistic way with teens, we must first understand the sexual culture they live in that normalizes sexting.
1. Teens think everyone is sexting and it’s no big deal.
2. Boys and girls engage in sexting for different reasons. Girls feel pressure to send sexts and are more likely to do so than boys. Boys feel more pressure to collect sexts and are more likely to receive sexts and share them with friends or post them online than girls. This poses an issue because it sets up a type of marketplace, where the boys are the consumers and the girls are the products to be consumed …
3. The sexual double standard is alive and well in sexting. We think nothing of a boy requesting a nude image or video, but when a girl participates, we think something is wrong with her …
4. Sexting can be a sign of self-objectification.
5. We have a victim blaming culture, even when it comes to sexting. When I do educational seminars about sex and technology with parents and teachers, I overwhelmingly hear stories of “sexting scandals”. Usually followed by a, “Why would she send a nude photo of herself in the first place? Something must be wrong with her.”
6. We need to redefine female sexual liberation.
7. We need to support girls to foster their own talents and abilities in multiple areas of life, and encourage boys to support them too. You don’t want your teen to sext? Try telling them not to do it. That didn’t work you say? Shocking. It’s important for parents of boys to acknowledge the pressure girls feel to prove they are sexy and to encourage them to recognize girls’ interests, talents and knowledge above their looks whenever possible. For parents of girls, it’s important to focus on their abilities and not just their looks or dress from a young age. It’s not that it is bad for teen girls to express sexuality, it’s just that we don’t want their only dose of daily self-esteem boost to come from a sexy selfie because her sexual worth is her only worth.
8. We need to hold boys and men accountable for their actions, they are capable of not acting on sexual impulses.
One of the most frequent questions I receive from parents is about apps that teenagers are using and what a caring parents perspective should be on them.
The team from Rawhide.org have released a helpful infographic which gives a quick and concise overview of these anonymous apps – something you can share with parents.
A great little message from Hampshire Constabulary to teenagers on dealing with sexting and nude selfies:
Is someone you’re speaking to online asking you to send nude selfies or sexual pics, or asking you to do things you feel uncomfortable to do? Pressuring, threatening or pushing someone to send sexual pics online is wrong!!
Did you know? It is an offence for any person to take, share or possess any sexual or nude image of a person U18
So what if you are U18?
- U18 and taking nude/sexual pics of yourself = offence
- U18 and having nude/sexual pics of yourself or others U18 on your phone/device = offence
- U18 and sending or sharing nude/sexual pics of yourslf or others U18 = offence
Remember: You don’t need to be an adult to commit sexual offences online – a criminal record can impact your future employment and freedom to travel abroad
According to a Netmums survey, 13 is the most difficult age. But it’s not only parents who find it hard going – it’s tough for the teenagers too. Here’s how to make it through to being 14, by Miranda Smith, aged 14 and four months.
1. Don’t put up pictures of yourself on Facebook with a bottle of WKD beside you and a comment like: “Got SO drunk last night.” No one thinks it’s cool – and WKD is only 4% proof.
2. You’re going to feel a whole lot more grumpy when you’re 13 than you did at 12. But the thing is it’s not just you – every other 13-year-old feels exactly the same. Knowing that helps a bit.
3. It’s tempting, but try not to be on your phone 24/7. It really bugs your parents but, worse, it’s boring for your friends.
4. Thirteen is the age when you’re likely to start getting attention from the opposite sex. Don’t get carried away by this – there’s nothing more moist than a lovesick 13-year-old.
5. Don’t send pictures of yourself in your underwear to ANYONE – because they’ll end up being spread around, and you’ll regret it.
6. Your friends will annoy you, make you angry and get on your nerves. But don’t insult them on Twitter – 13-year-olds do that all the time. Twitter is a public forum, and if you start tweeting about your issues anyone can get involved even if it’s none of their business.
7. A few months ago, you hardly thought about your body at all. Now it’s the only thing on your mind. Of course your body matters: but the thing to think is that no one else notices it as much as you do. So try to chill about it.
8. At precisely the moment when you decide there’s no better way to spend a Saturday than staying in bed til late afternoon, your parents will become obsessed with you doing the chores for them. Rule of thumb: you can only say, “I’ll do it later,” five times. After that, just do it.
9. Thirteen-year-olds have massive fights with their friends, all the time. A year on, you won’t even remember what those fights were about – but you will remember how unhappy they made you feel.
10. Plan a really good party for when you reach 14. When the parents say they want to be around you’ll think, “OMG no,” … but it’s probably going to be best to let them stay. Agree on the conditions, and stick to your side of the bargain provided they stick to theirs.