4 Ways to Address Sexting in the Classroom

Parent Training 1The headlines like to shock, 'teenagers in nude pic row', 'small town in teen sexting epidemic' ...again today it's being widely reported that in a recent nationwide study a mere 1 out of 5 girls are classed as enjoying a healthy self esteem, social media being in the dock yet again as the root cause. Are we to believe the hype and allow ourselves a knee jerk reaction to this growing problem or see it as not dissimilar to the ' show me yours and I'll show you mine' game from youth?

Firstly we need to understand why it's so popular even with the knowledge that in some circumstances it is against the law. 'Media hype' is correct in its suggestion that it’s practiced by a high number of teens. So, why is this the case? There are many factors that drive this behaviour...teenage behaviour experts have spoken of the natural instinct within young people to behave in a risky fashion; to explore their sexuality, discover their adult selves, break rules, feel 'naughty'... alongside this, the impact of the humble Smartphone and its never-ending options, like Snapchat and the instant Photoshop opportunities can't be underestimated. But, I think most of all it’s because of the good old craving to be told you're attractive and to feel desired, narcissism in all its glory - of which we are all not immune. All at a time when hormones are raging and there's this burning ambition to just 'fit in' and be popular.

If we delve a little deeper into other studies centred around the subject, there are other interesting finds that give us a deeper insight into the teenage mind, which fuel my ' PSHE teacher brain'. According to stats, 3 out of 4 teenagers truly believe that any pictures they send that are considered sexy or sexual will only ever be seen by the recipient. Naive perhaps, but we have to see it from their viewpoint - that it’s being sent to a person they see as being trustworthy and because they are still learning about relationships, their inexperience can be their undoing. Rather than displaying a cavalier attitude to their privacy and decency, is what is actually happening within the realms of 'normal' sexual experimentation? The survey goes on to state that out of the teens who partake in sexting, they perceive what they are doing as not being wrong and that it’s their choice... and apparently I discovered that cases of pictures being shared without permission were rare and unusual. However I'm sure that there are many cases that aren't reported due to the nature of the problem and the fact they would not want the police to get involved, or parents to find out.

I see the problems with sexting as being when young people are coerced or pressured to take and send sexual photos of themselves with the direct intension of being shared and their privacy abused. This is where the dangers lie with this issue and it can leave vulnerable individuals, normally girls, becoming victims of truly horrible experiences that can have far reaching consequences into adulthood.

So, yes, education is badly needed to make young people aware of all sides of this issue, including the law and where they stand should they take a picture, send it or worse share it. Ultimately, teenagers will always have a natural inclination toward this kind of behaviour, but at the very least we can be sure that they will be making decisions with all the facts and their complexities explained to them.

Below are some suggestions to the help you quickly get to the heart of the issue during lessons and spark classroom debate.
1. Be clear...Respect the law! Respect yourself and respect others (you could be breaking the law if you share)
2. Understand the consequences of your actions, imagine your 'worst case scenario' - think twice before pressing send. Question your actions.
3. Get the students to ask themselves 'what do I want to achieve from this?' ...could I get my desired outcome another way other than sending sexual pictures?
4. Finally, be realistic. Will sending pictures really bag the boyfriend/girlfriend of your dreams? The chances are probably not. If they respect you they will not ask you to do it. Never be talked into doing it!

If you would like to share your thoughts and ideas on how to tackle this topic with your class, please use the comment section below. E-safety Support Premium and Premium Plus members can also download related assembly and lesson plans from your dashboard.

Written by Vicki Dan on November 13, 2014 11:42

The Snappening – Will it change the way young people use Snapchat?

A few days ago, the word Snappening began to make headlines. A suspected leak of thousands of images of young people had been claimed to have been ‘saved’ from the online app, Snapchat.

According to the report from The Telegraph, hackers accessed around 100,000 private photos and videos of Snapchat users over several years using a third-party service that saves images. Many have then appeared on the 4Chan website. As half of Snapchat’s users are aged between 13 and 17, there is concern many of the images might be of children.

For people of a certain age (or should that be, over a certain age), Snapchat is an enigma – in short, it is a messaging app allowing users to send images to one another to accompany a message on the basis that the image will disappear moments later.

Having recently spent many evenings in the company of someone under that age, the constant click of the electronic shutter aroused my curiosity and I questioned the appeal of using the app. I was told that ‘everyone uses it’ and that was quite simply the main attraction, despite her later admittance that she really couldn’t see the point! There is of course also an element of vanity, why else would it take several attempts to capture the perfect pose for this ‘temporary’ image.

So, when the Snappening first made the headlines, I turned to her to gauge the reaction. Initially there was a little shock (despite knowing that the images could be captured from Snapchat even before the leak), but that soon turned to indifference. It seems that for this particular peer group, only faces make it into the ‘chat’, so there was no concern that anything inappropriate could be leaked – and ‘so what’ if their faces were!

In this case, all of the images have been innocent, but it doesn’t take a huge leap of imagination to see how young people could see the attraction of sharing a fleeting image on the belief that it will only appear for a few seconds before disappearing forever. It seems that they are a little misguided on the power of the Internet and the technology surrounding it. A colleague recently commented “the internet, a hard drive or anything digital leaves a trail! It's like etching in glass, you can smooth it out but if you use a microscope you will see that the image is still embedded into the core of the material like the imperfections in a diamond, invisible to the naked eye”.

So perhaps rather than seeing this as an isolated case only affecting Snapchat, we should be re-visiting the concept of the digital footprint and remind pupils that once something is on ‘The Internet’, be that words or pictures, you lose control. It is also an ideal opportunity to raise the subject of cyber bullying and sexting with pupils who may be using this or similar sites.

For now though, it seems that I am due for more evenings being punctuated with the constant click of the shutter, while the Snapchatting continues until it ceases to be the thing that “everyone” is doing.

If you would like to share your thoughts on this topic, please let us know by using the comments section below

Written by Safeguarding Essentials on October 15, 2014 11:33

The many faces of the selfie

A video which went viral recently was that of a father who had captured his daughter taking endless selfies, innocently pulling an array of faces at herself, for that one perfect 'selfie'. I have to confess to being a little amused at the sheer determination of the young lady involved and her apparent focus on the task - if only all students could apply this level of concentration in the classroom...!

It is unfortunate that something which can clearly cause so much entertainment can also have a negative side too - we have heard many stories about selfies being used for sexting and how they can have serious consequences for all concerned. However, in a recent article from market research company Vobxurner, they identify some of the less innocent selfie trends that are also emerging.

Distasteful hashtags

Young consumers are taking to using rather unnerving selfies accompanied by even more unnerving hashtags. Snapping away at funerals (#funeralselfie) and with homeless people (#homelessselfie) is considered a ‘thing,’ and shows how a fun and positive trend can flip 180 into being dark, sinister and so blatantly disrespectful.

The young and vulnerable

Young girls are hashtagging the #thighgap trend, which came about earlier this year, closely followed by the #bikinigap. To explain, the thigh gap is the gap in between the legs, that only skinny people (or people with wide-set hips) can attain, and the bikini gap is when your hip bones protrude creating a gap in between a girl’s, or boy’s for that matter, bikini bottoms or trunks. This scary phase is promoting an unhealthy lifestyle, especially for teenage girls who are so vulnerable and at risk of eating disorders.

Kim Kardashian’s ‘Selfish’ book

It would be a crime to write an article on the subject of selfies without Kim K’s name being mentioned. The queen of selfies has created a book titled, ‘Selfish,’ which simply contains a whole load of selfies. Dubbed narcissistic by many, this shows how everyone has become somewhat self-absorbed. Or perhaps we always were and this is just a new way to document it. As the Wall Street Journal put it so aptly, "Get over your selfie.”

Dangerous surrounds

People are going to extreme measures and putting themselves in danger to take that absolutely perfect selfie.

Most recently a couple fell to their death after trying to take a snapshot while on holiday in Lisbon, Portugal. Meanwhile an Italian girl plunged 60ft to her death as she attempted to take a selfie while on rocks in the seaside town of Taranto.

If this doesn’t prove the trend has gone too far, nothing will.

Anti-selfies

There’s now an ‘anti-selfie’ app to counteract the countless number of selfies continuously surfacing on the Internet. SLMMSK comes with a special set of filters. Users simply turn on the camera function to get some of the best obscuring filters around. Thanks to the app’s facial detection technology, users can recreate and edit images so as to hide the fact that that it was originally a selfie. There’s the option to blur your face, hide your eyes, cover yourself with emojis or just add a frown in real-time.

If you have spotted a selfie trend among your school community, please let us know by using the comments section below.

Written by Safeguarding Essentials on September 04, 2014 10:37


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