Aug 14, 2019
In this episode we’ll be talking about kids trading nudes or “sexting” as the old people like to say! Why are kids participating in this risky behavior? And what can we do about it?
Recently we were chatting with a safety officer at a local middle school who relayed the following story (shared with permission):
“I was called to the office to deal with a couple because the school administrator had found nude photos of the girl on the guy’s phone. So I get to the office, and I know these kids, and I say: ‘What’s the deal guys? Are you having sex?’ And the girl goes off! She says, ‘Ew, no way! He has never seen me naked in person--just pictures! That way I can get a good angle and then I can touch it up and put on a filter!’”
There are many questions and side issues when it comes to trading nudes:
-Is it child porn?
-Who can be incriminated?
-Have you heard of “sexploitation”? This is basically blackmail with nudes.
-What happens when adults get involved--like predators or adults posing as kids?
However ... in this episode, we’re going to keep it simple and focus on KIDS sharing nudes with other KIDS.
In this context, “NUDES” are pictures of children sent to children (nude selfies). This is different than pre-made porn found on the internet. In today’s culture, kids don’t think of nudes as pornographic images. (How crazy is that!)
So … Why are kids trading nudes? And what can we do about it?
Today we will be discussing:
“Everyone is doing it”
-Kids’ perception in today’s world is that ‘everyone is doing it.” In reality, research shows that on average 1 in every 4 kids participate in this behavior.
-Titania Jordan from Bark told us that “Trading nudes is the new first base.” For today’s kids, it’s considered a normal, standard way of interacting with their peers.
-Since this behavior is so prevalent, and so many of our kids have access to digital devices, viewing nudes can also happen by accident. Just like kids can see bad words written on the bathroom walls at school, our kids might not go looking for these things, but they are exposed to them anyway.
-Kids can be victims of circumstance--just doing their thing--and someone sends them an unsolicited nude picture.
-Romantic relationships can be a key motivator when it comes to trading nudes.
-Girls might have a desire to please or acquiesce or gain attention from a specific young man
“this boy wants me to send him 2 pics of me 1 in a bra and the other without a bra. I'm scared to do send them cause he might show people ...but I really like him.”
-There is a lot of pressure on our boys to ask for nudes when they are in a relationship because in today’s culture that is what they are “supposed” to do.
-Society tends to blame the girls when this happens.
-Trading nudes perpetuates the “boys will be boys” mentality.
-Boys are collecting and trading nudes “like baseball/hockey cards.”
-There are so many challenges for kids surrounding the decisions to send nude photos. Should they be flattered or offended?
-Be informed about what we mean by “trading nudes.”
-Don’t just get upset about the problem. Use the energy to motivate us to talk.
-Give your kids a safe place to talk about this in your “Construction Site.” (Create a safe place where your kids can talk to you about anything!)
-Sometimes we slam on the brakes! Assume the best of your kids: If there are images on their phone and they tell you it was an accident or that someone sent it to them without their knowledge, believe them! These things happen. Be on the same team!
-Keep in mind your kids might be trading nudes … but don’t panic!
-Don’t assume your kids aren’t feeling pressure to conform. Or they haven’t done so already.
-Monitor the pics your kids are taking. If possible, share a cloud so you can see each other’s pics.
-If possible, screen your kids’ text messages--not in a creepy or sneaky way. Work together. Mentor. Be a team. Let them know you want to keep them safe.
III. TALK TO THE EXPERTS--YOUR KIDS!
-Give kids creative solutions to fight back against the culture of sharing nudes. For example, one group of girls banded together and agreed to send a photo of a raw chicken when they are asked for nudes. Another girl always sends a pic of herself in a T-rex costume when a guy solicits her for nudes.
-For young kids, give prescriptive solutions. But for older kids, let them problem-solve and come up with their own solutions.
-Make sure your children know they can always come to you and talk about these things.
-Role-play: Create a game plan for your kids if they encounter nudes. Ask them specific ques:
-What would you do if you see a nude photo on a friend’s phone?
-What would you do if a friend sends you a nude picture?
-What would you do if someone asks you to send a nude picture of yourself?
Challenge: Start an open dialogue with your kids in the car, at the dinner table, etc. Ask them, “What would you do if someone sent you a nude picture?”