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Teens Need to Know: Sexting is Not a Game

 

Amanda Todd

The natural course of life dictates that sooner or later kids are going to learn about sex.

Hormones start raging and teens get curious and it is natural for them to ask questions. However, when it comes to the question of whether or not to get involved in sexting, the answer needs to be a final, resounding NO.

With the internet, web cameras, and smartphones entering the scene so quickly, parents have struggled to keep up with the latest gadget. Along with this flurry of new technology, proper internet etiquette has barely been able to establish itself. If nothing else, then one fact alone should cause anyone to pause before they put anything online or on a phone:

Nothing that is said on the internet or uploaded to the internet can ever be taken back.

The reality is that once it’s online, it’s gone. A video or photo can be downloaded as easily as it was uploaded and even text online can be screenshot and saved to a computer.

Just a few months ago, Amanda Todd published a video to YouTube telling about her encounters with people online. After being complemented and doted upon, she was asked to post a nude picture of her chest. Once that picture was in the hands of this stranger online, Amanda was blackmailed and threatened that the photo would go out to her friends and family if she didn’t “put on a show” for him.

Eventually the photo got out and Amanda was bullied and harassed continually by her schoolmates. She was found dead on October 10, 2012, having committed suicide.

As Amanda rightly mentioned in her video, once a photo goes out into the internet, it is irretrievable. Unfortunately, she learned this lesson the hard way, but this doesn’t have to be the case for your children or students.

Begin to make your children and students aware today that whatever they put online is permanent. A simple nude photo that is sexted to a boyfriend or girlfriend can be easily forwarded to hundreds of other people. Public embarrassment and harassment is sure to follow.

In accordance with Senate Bill 407, schools are required to make their students aware to these issues. We agree that this is a crucial first step and we actually provide assemblies of this nature (read more on our For Schools page about SB 407 training), but the next step is also vitally important: follow up.

One of the ways that we encourage follow up is through classroom discussion after an awareness assembly. Allow students to take a sense of ownership about the issues presented and talk about them with their peers. As a part of our assembly, we provide schools with a “Classroom Discussion Guide” that has questions designed to generate conversation based off our presentation.

Find other ways to keep a sense of self-respect and awareness in front of your children’s and students’ eyes through posters and other creative mediums.

For more information regarding sexting, check out this “Brief Guide for Educators and Parents” by the Cyberbullying Research Center.

 
© 2016 Mark Seguin