Expert Response #1
Fear for your phone!
I am sorry – I should respect your privacy. Although sexting is widespread, if things get out of hand in your group, the police would seize everyone’s devices, so I want you to think very carefully about the consequences of whatever you choose to share
Janey Downshire, qualified counsellor and co-founder of Teenagers Translated
Expert Response #2
Empathy for the sender
I apologise for intruding on your privacy… I don’t like to see this on your phone because it makes me worry about you and whoever is sending these messages. It can seem like a good idea at the time, and you might like to receive these, but once photos are sent they can be used against people and spread to others on the internet
Expert Response #3
You know that it is illegal to have this picture, as it was illegal for the person to send it to you. I am worried that you or they might get into trouble, which I don’t want to happen. I would like you to delete the picture straightaway. Are you willing to talk to me about who has sent this and if it has happened before?
Josie Rayner-Wells, national PSHE/RSE adviser
Whatever you say next, keep these things in mind…
Take an interest in your child’s online life more generally – the positive too. One way to avoid alienating your child is to show that you don’t disapprove of absolutely everything screen-related
Discuss digital pressures with your child and show sympathy about the new pressures they face
Consider the context. Sexting – aka sending nudes – via WhatsApp, Snapchat and Instagram is considered a normal part of young people’s relationships and sexual development and exploration. It can be a way for them to figure out about pleasure, build body confidence, show off or be validated. Girls can be pressured to prove their love for a partner by sending naked pictures or videos. But once it’s gone, that image is no longer in their control – and relationships can change… Read more here
Sexting or sending nudes can feel like you’re on an escalator and can’t get off. Reassure your child that if they feel anything is getting out of hand, it’s never too late to put things right
If you find that something has happened that could be difficult or endangering for your child, try to postpone your feelings of hurt, anger or shock. Stay calm and get the facts straight. As a first priority, ask them to delete the images. Signpost them to Selfies: the naked truth on the great site Thinkuknow
CRISIS NOT AVERTED?
More help with sexting…
CHILDNET | About sexting – info for parents
Childnet’s “hot topics” include: Sexting – what is it, how can it impact my child’s wellbeing and how can I talk to my child about it? Go to Hot Topics: Sexting >
SOUTH WEST GRID FOR LEARNING | So You Got Naked Online
Teen-friendly PDF resource with a hefty dose of the fear factor (it starts with Amanda Todd, who took her life at the age of 15) Go to So You Got Naked Online >
BIRDS & BEES & KIDS | Sexting! It’s Perfectly Normal!
Putting into perspective what might motivate a young person to be sexting, a sexual-advice therapist who’s also a parent considers the context Go to Birds & Bees & Kids >
Remember: every child is different. Adjust these suggestions for the age and stage of your child. Children with special educational needs and disabilities, looked-after children and children who have experienced abuse may all need different support.
If you’re in doubt about your child’s emotional, physical or psychological development, please seek the advice of a professional