Knowing the Risks: Sexting
Sexting is a common form of self-generated sexually explicit content often done by and among consenting individuals.
There is also a non-consensual aspect to it which involves unwanted sharing or receiving sexually explicit photos or videos or messages. This can be done by both known as well as unknown people. Their intention may be to make contact, put pressure or groom the child.
Dangers of Sexting
No Control Over Images:
It is easy to send a photo or message but the sender has no control about how it’s passed on. When images are stored or shared online they become public. Some people may think that images and videos can be easily deleted on social media, or that they just don’t last for more than a few seconds/days etc. But they can still be saved or copied by others. They can be leaked in case of a hack. This means that photos or videos which you may have shared privately could still be end up being shared between people you don’t know.
Blackmail, Bullying & Harm:
‘Sexting’ can leave young people vulnerable to:
Blackmail : An offender may threaten to share the pictures with the child’s family and friends unless the child sends money or more images.
Bullying : If images are shared with their peers or in school, the child may be bullied and shamed.
Unwanted attention: Images posted online can attract the attention of sex offenders, who know how to search for, collect and modify images.
Emotional distress: Children can feel embarrassed and humiliated. If they’re very distressed this could lead to suicide or self-harm.
How to Prevent Unwanted Consequences of Sexting
- Outline the rules of having a mobile, tablet or smartphone at the very outset.
- Ask your child what they feel is acceptable to send to people, if they’d be happy for you or a stranger or other children to see certain photos. If the answer is ‘no’, explain that the image, video or message is probably not appropriate to send.
- Make sure they’re comfortable saying no.
- Tell them that their body is private and being asked to share explicit images is inappropriate.
- Explain to them about the importance of trust and consent in a healthy relationship. Tell them that it is not okay for someone to make them feel uncomfortable, to pressure them into doing things that they don’t want to do, or to show them things that they’re unhappy about.
- Let them know that they can speak to you if this ever happens. And that you will not judge them if they come to you.
Click here to proceed to NSPCC’s excellent #ShareAware Campaign Page