In this article, we’ll be explaining the recent phenomena of “sexting”, as well as what you can do as a parent to keep your kids safe…
With the advent of social media and instant messaging, sexting has become an increasingly popular form of sexual communication. Leading charity, UNICEF, defines sexting as the “self-production and sharing of sexualised messages”. This can include nude photos, explicit videos, and suggestive texts.
While sexting can be a perfectly acceptable route for many, there are many dangers that can accompany the activity. Some of these dangers include people sending unsolicited pictures, or someone posting and sharing your photos or videos without consent. In addition to this, once an image is on the internet, it’s almost impossible to erase and you can therefore quickly lose control of your photos.
What’s even more worrying with this, is that the latest figures and surveys are suggesting a number of kids are engaging in sexting. This poses a serious risk to your kid’s safety. Thankfully, with the appropriate measures and care, you can help keep your kids safe. To find out more on how to do this, keep reading…
What is the Law on Sexting?
It is a criminal offence to create or share explicit images of a child, even if the content was created with the consent of that young person.
By law, the police must record all sexting incidents on their system. However, the police can decide not to take further action against the young person if it is not in the public interest. This will be at the discretion of the police.
How Serious of an Issue is Sexting?
An American survey of over 5,500 students found that 13% of young people had sent a sext and 18.5% had received one. However, other reports suggest that this figure is higher, with the June 2019 edition of JAMA Paediatrics finding that at least 1 in 4 teenagers receive sexually explicit texts and emails.
On top of this, there have been many reports of young girls being groomed and blackmailed by older men online. One BBC article revealed how girls aged 13 experienced extortion via sexting.
Predators often blackmail children into keeping them in a sexting cycle. These men often take advantage of the fact children are more relaxed online. Often, these offenders also pretend to be younger or someone else so that it’s easier to manipulate a child into sending them explicit content.
How to Warn Your Child of the Dangers of Sexting
While talking about sexting with your kids may not be the easiest or most comfortable conversation, it’s certainly worth it. Sexting puts a lot of risks on your kid’s personal and sexual privacy, so it’s important to maintain a healthy and honest dialogue with them.
Below, we run through some tips on how to warn your kids about the dangers…
Explain the Consequences of Sexting
First and foremost, it’s important to explain to your kids the consequences of sexting. Teenagers tend to get caught up in the moment, especially considering their brains are not fully developed in terms of decision-making. As a result, they do not always thoroughly think through the repercussions of their actions.
That being said, it’s important to calmly explain some of the consequences and not overwhelm or criticise them. At the end of the day, you want your kids to feel like they can trust and confide in you if there was ever a problem and, therefore, it is important to not scare them.
A good way to communicate some of these consequences is by providing examples.
You may want to start by discussing their digital footprint and how once something is on the internet it is usually there to stay.
Talk About Healthy Sexuality
At the end of the day, kids look up to their parents and view them as credible sources of information. It is therefore a good idea to try and have open and honest conversations about healthy sexuality.
Reminding your kids that feeling the need to explore their sexuality is normal is important. However, it’s equally important to stress their sexual privacy and safety, as well as the law.
Remember Not to Judge
It’s also crucial to remember that kids are not as mature as us adults; they still have a lot growing up to do. For this reason, it’s important to not judge. Most kids will not be aware of, or are even fully able to understand, the dangers and consequences of sexting.
Keeping Kids Safe from the Dangers of Sexting
The emergence of instant messaging and social media has led to a surge in sexting in recent years. While sexting can be a perfectly acceptable route for many, it poses serious dangers for children.
Many kids are naïve about the long-term risks involved in sexting. It is therefore a good idea to have honest and open communication with your children where you can calmly explain some of the consequences. It’s also important to maintain a healthy dialogue with your kids so that if something was to happen to them, they’d feel they could confide in you.