It’s true. The data proves that during the time your child is living in your home, they will likely receive an explicit message or be asked to send one. This could some from several sources: a total stranger, a boyfriend/girlfriend, or even a teacher. This week’s news brought several instances of teachers accused of sexting students. This should lead you to one important question: do they know what to do when it happens?
You Have To Get This One Right
When I talk to parents, one thing that I stress is that there is one question they have to get right. In my informal survey, most kids would not go to their parent if they experienced something online that made them feel unsafe or uncomfortable. Parents have to figure out the way to change that for their child. This becomes especially true with explicit messages.
In an article published by The Telegraph this week, we get the story a Mared. A 14-year old girl that fell victim to the easy approval she got from guys by sending semi-nude pictures of herself to people she met online. Unfortunately, there are adults who don’t sense the weight of this. For Mared this led to regret and anxiety. Data also suggests that these teens who fall into this trap are more likely to seek out virtual relationships with strangers instead of real ones. This often leads to even more dangerous behavior.
So what are you to do? If at all possible, you need to talk to your child before this happens. Give them a framework for how to handle explicit messages. If they have a device that they can use (even if it isn’t theirs), you need to have this talk with them. Here are five topics you should discuss with them:
- Tell your child that if they receive any communications (emails, text messages, social media messages) from an authority figure that is personal, they should tell you immediately.
- Let your child know that they should tell you immediately if anyone asks them to send a picture of themselves (even if it isn’t explicit).
- Tell your child they should let you know right away if they receive an explicit message of any kind. Often kids can be sent these messages without asking for them.
- Explain to your kid (at any age) that it isn’t ever appropriate to send images of themselves online where they aren’t fully clothed. If this is a new topic, you may want help in talking to your child about pornography.
- Explain to your child that sexting can result in them being sent to jail. If they take a picture of themselves nude or semi-nude and they are under 18, they are guilty of one or more felonies.
Remember, as a parent you have a unique role. You can be the antidote to many online dangers, even if events like these have already happened. Don’t delay, talk with your kid today.