Hello my lovelies,
Sexting. Is it something you’ve ever done? Something you’d like to do? Or something you’d never touch? Well, it’s happening and probably a lot more than you think. What I want to write about and make people aware of is the dangers of sexting, specifically sending explicit images and/or videos. Also, what it’s doing to the younger generation.
The reasons why teenagers sext is slightly different to why adults do. I found that teenagers often think that every other teenager is doing it, so they feel the need to join in. Some teenagers feel that it will boost their confidence and self-esteem as they may get compliments about their body. Some teenagers even said it can start through flirting with someone, whether they know them personally or not. I even read that teenagers find it hard to say no to people. It’s so sad that people feel pressurised into sending explicit images and/or videos of themselves.
As well as the more obvious risks associated with sending explicit images/videos to other people, most people don’t always fully appreciate that they no longer have control over the image/video once it has been sent. I’m going to use the word victim here, as in some cases, they will be known as a victim. One image might not be enough for the person who received it. They may begin to blackmail and send threats to receive more and then the person who took the images/video could become a victim. Threats such as sharing the images online or telling the victim’s family and friends could be a way of blackmailing for more. Also, bullying can occur at school f the images/video are shared online. People might not get the attention that they set out to get from the right types of people either. Whether an adult or a teen, sex offenders may easily contact you if the your image has been shared. For an adult, it is a lot easier to know the dangers of certain people talking to you, however, a teen may not recognise the danger signs. You can’t always tell who you’re talking to, so you might not know you’re talking to a sex offender.
If explicit images/videos have been shared online, there is a very strong chance that the victim will be cyberbullied about them. Even friendships can affected, as people often distance themselves from the victim in order to escape being bullied themselves. This can easily make the victim feel betrayed and alone. Being in a relationship, people have said that they feel obliged to send their partners explicit content. However, this isn’t the case and chances are if the couple break up the images/videos won’t be kept private for long. People are often left angry and hurt when a relationship ends which can lead to bad decisions being made.
Sadly, sending explicit messages, images or videos can have some very damaging effects on a person’s life. Some people may turn to self-harming as a form of punishment, or worse, suicide. There have been numerous reports in the United States of America of young women committing suicide because of the after effects of sending explicit content.
I’ve read some horrifying statistics whilst looking online, some worse than others. For instance, 11% of teens under 18 have sent explicit images to strangers, 12% of teens said they felt pressurised to send explicit images/videos, 34% of teens said it was to make them feel sexy, most scary of all though is that 48% of girls said they did it for a joke! I’m not quite sure why anyone would do it for a joke.
I understand if you’re a child or teenager you may not know where to turn if you have sent an explicit image/video and regret it. I found that ChildLine is a brilliant website that can give you help and advice if you find yourself in a horrible situation. Their website can be found here: https://www.childline.org.uk/info-advice/bullying-abuse-safety/online-mobile-safety/sexting/
The best thing to do if you are put in the situation where you’re asked to send an explicit image/video is to just block the person, whether that’s on social media or on your mobile phone. Never assume that because you’re in a relationship with someone, that they will keep your explicit content safe. Just don’t risk it.
Following on from above, I thought that it might be helpful to talk about the law. The following facts are based in the UK and are the same for adults as well as children. In the UK, creating an explicit image or sharing explicit images of a child is illegal. It is also against the law for a child to create explicit images/videos of themselves, furthermore, a young person will still be breaking the law if they take an explicit image/video of a friend, especially so if they share the image/video. This law applies even to those children that are the same age. It is also illegal to possess, download or store explicit images/videos, even if the child permits you to. In January of this year, police were given the power to decide whether they want to record a young person creating and sharing explicit content as a crime in the same way that an adult would be. However, taking formal action isn’t in the public interest. Even though the minimum legal age to consent to sex is 16 or above in the UK, you can’t actually take explicit images/videos of yourself or anyone else and share them until all parties are at least 18 years old.
Also see my Online and offline grooming article by clicking that link.