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Supporting Teen with Sexting

Supporting Teen with Sexting

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Supporting Teen with Sexting

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Sexting: My daughter is sending and receiving nude pictures on social media. What conversations should I be having with her right now? How can I help her to understand the impact of her actions?

 

I imagine you’re feeling pretty worried about your teen right now and the choices she is making.  The world of social media and sexting can be fraught with challenges and it’s likely that this was never an issue that you had to deal with when you were a teen.  If you feel unsure how to navigate this situation one of the first things that you can do is increase your own knowledge around sexting, particularly the legal ramifications for young people.  A good place to start is here: 

https://yla.org.au/qld/topics/internet-phones-and-technology/photos-and-videos-on-your-phone/

Before you approach your teen think about the purpose of your conversations.  What do you hope to achieve by talking to her about this issue?  Here are some key points to focus on during your conversations:

 

  • - Express your concerns to her.  Use “I” statements to communicate your feelings to her.  For example, “I’m really worried about what you are doing”.  By using “I” statements you are removing judgement and blame and minimising the potential for her to become defensive. 
  • - Increase your understanding of the issue from her point of view.  Listen to her without judgement and blame, acknowledge and validate her feelings and point of view.  Keep your reactions in check and show her that you can handle what she has to say as this will allow her to feel safe and keep the lines of communication open.
  • - Check her understanding of the issue.  Use gentle and curious questions to find out whether she perceives this behaviour as an issue, if she has thought about the risks and also whether she has any idea of the legal implications of what she is doing.  For example, “How do you feel about sending/receiving nude pictures?” “Have you thought about what might happen to these pictures?”, “Are you aware of the legal issues of sexting?”  The focus here is about increasing understanding rather than interrogating. 
  • - Provide her with factual information.  Without lecturing her provide her with information that you can both discuss calmly.  Perhaps you could do some online research together.  Some important things to focus on might be the risks associated with sexting such as losing control over the image once it is shared, your teen’s digital footprint, and the legal implication

Once you have been able to share and discuss this information support your teen to work out what steps she might like to take next.  One of the first things she might consider is to remove any nude images of herself or others that may be stored on any of her devices.  If it is safe to do so she could also approach the person that she sent the image to and ask them to remove the images.  She may need your support to do this.

If your teen becomes aware that an image of her has been posted somewhere on the internet then you could contact the e-safety commissioner to help you remove the image: 

https://www.esafety.gov.au/key-issues/image-based-abuse/take-action/report-to-esafety-commissioner

 

Child & Family Professional, The Benevolent Society


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We also partner with The Benevolent Society to offer free personalised one-on-one support for parents and carers of teens over the phone and online.

For more information: https://parents.au.reachout.com/one-on-one-support

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We are Child and Family Professionals from The Benevolent Society, answering questions for the ReachOut Parents event: Ask a Child and Family Professional a Question


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