This time in your life is a beautiful one: one that will find you paving new roads, finding new adventures and forging new pathways. You will try new things, meet new people, make new choices and discover new possibilities. And along the way, you will make a few mistakes. There will be a few errors to be had, misjudgments and miscalculations to mark the new territory you discover — and that’s okay. That’s part of living… it’s part of learning.
There will be places you will stumble and fall. There will be falters and slip ups along the way. But please, girls, whatever else happens: don’t let sexual harassment be one of those dangers you allow yourself to be caught up in unaware.
There will be guys — seemingly decent guys — who will want to be with you. Hook up with you. They will text you, message you, Facetime and SnapChat you. You will be on their radar.
Because look at you: you’re beautiful, inside and out. You’re amazing. And you will get caught up in the rush of emotions and feelings this experience will bring; you will most definitely enjoy the ride. But sooner or later, there will come a time when something highly inappropriate will show up on your screen. Something that will be so degrading and demeaning to your dignity and sense of integrity. So beneath your standards. Something gross and disgusting — let’s just cut to the chase here. Something vile. And you will think you have to laugh it off — because that’s what everyone does, right? This happens to everyone.
And so you will do just that: you will laugh about it because you want that certain someone on the other end of the conversation to still think you are pretty/beautiful/hot. You want to still be liked and accepted.
You want to be wanted.
But all the while, you will think to yourself: why did he do this/say this/send this/show this/ask this? What just happened and why?
And in your heart of hearts you will know: THIS IS NOT RIGHT. I DON’T NEED THIS. I WON’T TAKE THIS. ENOUGH.
I am asking you, girls, to then run. Run away and fast from this kind of offending behaviour. Run away from this kind of guy. Stop the conversation. Tell someone you trust. Do not think for one little second that you need to entertain this rude and ignorant conduct. End it. And do so because of your own sense of pride. Because you know that you deserve so much better. Because you know you are worth so much more.
Because you are better than this.
And even if they say (your friends/their friends/his friends/anyone) “this is just part of the experience”: don’t take that line for a second. You are worth more than all the gold in the world. Your soul is of the rarest perfection. You are pure beauty. And you do not need to take this kind of garbage from anyone.
Especially from a guy who says you are beautiful one minute and then asks you to do something ugly the next.
A TEENAGER who received “sexting” photos from female friends has been released without conviction on child pornography charges — but will be marked as a sex offender on future any police record check.
The man had just turned 18 when he was charged with possession of child pornography, and admitted to receiving a number of pictures from female teenage friends.
District Court judge Simon Stretton said it was “difficult to imagine a less serious version” of child pornography charges — noting that none of the images found on the man’s phone involved child abuse.
“In short, your primary offending was looking at non-sexual images of women in your own age range, a third of which had been sent to you by two of your own friends,” Judge Stretton said.
“There was no sex depicted in any image so your activity did not support in any way the industry that molests children. There were relatively few images and of the least serious type.”
Judge Stretton said a “particularly unusual” aspect of the case was the close age proximity between the man and the teenagers who sent the photographs.
“You are only just 18 and the majority of the images are of females between 14 and 17,” he said.
“Almost a third of the images are of two of your friends that they voluntarily sent to you attached to emails, one was a former girlfriend.”
Judge Stretton said a psychologist had found the man was “small and immature” and at low risk of reoffending.
“You do not suffer from a paedophilic disorder, essentially as your sexual interest is in women in your own age range,” he said.
Judge Stretton said while the man did “accept it is wrong to look at photos of teenage girls” he was a normal young man who had never been in trouble with the law.
“It would be difficult to imagine a less serious version of this offence being committed … in my view you fall into that rare category of cases where there is good reason for discharging you without recording a conviction or penalty,” he said.
Despite recording no conviction or penalty, Judge Stretton said the offence would continue as a black mark against the young man in future.
“Whatever may happen here … the finding of guilt is recorded and will be disclosed on any police record check,” he said.
“Accordingly, you will have a record available for checking by anyone who wants to require a check in the community, insofar as it might need to be protected by knowledge of your history.”
In July, Attorney-General John Rau announced the government was considering changing child pornography laws to deal with the ‘realities of youth behaviour” and that any amendments would still protect “vulnerable people”.
KUSA – A recent sexting scandal at Cañon City High School shed some light on the issue of sexting.
Sexting is when someone texts another person something risqué, sometimes including nude images. In some cases, teens caught sexting could face lifelong consequences like being labeled a sex offender.
A new poll shows a lot of Colorado residents take the issue a little more lightly than expected.
According to the Quinnipiac survey, 42 percent of voters think sexting is a very serious problem. Thirty-three percent said it was “somewhat serious,” and in other poll, 69 percent didn’t believe a student should get expelled if caught.
“Ghost apps, hidden apps, they’re everywhere and kids know about them,” Mike Harris, Jefferson County District Attorney investigator, told NBC Nightly News.
So what exactly are these “ghost apps”?
A quick Google search for vault apps gives you a number of different options that have similar functionalities. Some of them look like a normal calculator app, but once you type in a secret code, it takes you to a hidden page where you can store photos, video, and all kinds of personal information.
Investigators are saying at least 100 Canon City High School kids used such apps to share and store hundreds of nude and seminude pics with each other, including students as young as 13. Students involved in the case could face possible charges of possessing and distributing child pornography.
The New York Times points out such vault apps have been in the market since as early as 2012, and some are very popular, like Private Photo Vault, which is ranked the 28th most downloaded photo and video app on the AppStore, while an app called Secret Calculator Folder Free has over 800 reviews.
The bigger problem is that this may just be a tip of the iceberg. The NBC report stressed that other sexting scandals have been reported in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Tennessee recently, and that most schools in the US have seen similar cases in one way or another.
The figures were released under the Freedom of Information Act in respect of those under 18 who had been investigated under the offence of taking an indecent photograph of a child.
‘Sexting’ means sending a sexually explicit photograph or message using a mobile phone through text messaging services or social sites such as Facebook.
‘Sending these images could land them a criminal record’
Des Mannion, NSPCC Cymru’s head of service, said: “It’s a criminal offence to share an indecent image of someone under 18 even if the person sharing it is a young person themselves.
“They need to be aware that sending images like this could land them with a criminal record.
“These statistics are only the tip of the iceberg because police won’t know about every incidence. We know that sexting is increasingly a feature of adolescent relationships and children do take risks online, sometimes without realising it.”
Children aged 14 most frequently investigated
The age ranges of the children investigated were between eight and 17 years old but 14-year-olds were the most investigated, with 14 instances.
These children would have been in Year Nine or 10 at school.
The majority of those investigated were “advised accordingly,” according to police. Others were referred to social services, made to complete restorative justice, or were the subject of a youth restorative disposal. Three received a youth caution.
“An important outcome of the work with schools has been the increase in the number of children who have sought advice from their teachers on the subject.
“Where offences are identified South Wales Police seeks to deal in a proportional manner and a range of outcomes are utilised to ensure children are not unnecessarily drawn into the criminal justice system.”
Help is available
Mr Mannion said advice to young people, as well as their parents and carers, was available such as ChildLine’s free ZipIt app.
He said: “It includes witty images and replies they can use when asked for an inappropriate picture to keep in control of the situation.
“Parents and carers concerned about their child’s activity online can also download our free Share Aware guide which contains advice to help keep children safe online, in apps, and on social media.”
Zoe Hilton, of the National Crime Agency’s Ceop Command, said they had been getting reports of harmful situations because of sexting.
Normal for teens – alarming for parents
She said: “With smartphones and tablets, and new apps emerging all the time, this behaviour is becoming quite normal for teenagers.
“But it can be alarming for mum and dad who might not know how to help when things go wrong.
“Information and advice on staying safe can be found at www.thinkuknow.co.uk – our education programme designed to help protect children and young people from sexual abuse and exploitation.”
Contact ChildLine on 0800 1111 or visit www.childline.org.uk for free confidential advice and support.
Dr Natasha Nijlani says a growing number of her adult patients have depressive or anxiety disorders linked to earlier online experiences.
Charities working with teenagers have told Newsbeat they’re seeing a rise in cases of cyber-bullying and sexting.
Dr Nijlani says the consequences of that are “very worrying”.
“Things that happen to adolescents carry on emotionally to their early adulthood and I’m seeing the repercussions of cyber-bullying and online harassment with patients who are over the age of 18,” she says.
Dr Nijlani works for The Priory, which runs mental health rehabilitation services.
It has seen a rise of nearly 50% in four years of 12 to 17-year-olds admitted for serious depressive order, anxiety disorder and stress-related issues.
In 2014 there were 262 admissions, compared with 178 in 2010.
Dr Nijlani says the number of adult patients has grown in this time by 25%.
Although she says it’s good there is increased awareness of mental health issues and people seeking help, she’s also worried there’s a rise in the number of adults experiencing mental health problems.
She says in years to come there could be “an epidemic”, caused in part by “what happens online as teenagers”.
“Negative online experiences can lead to mental health problems if people are vulnerable.
“Social media makes it easier for bullies and gives us new ways of abusing each other.
“If you get bullied at that crucial stage in your development, when your character is being formed, there is good evidence it can affect your self esteem and confidence – and your whole life for many years,” she says.
“Sexting is often seen as harmless, but it can lead to shame and embarrassment.
“The permanence of life online mean it’s hard to move on – there are things you can’t delete.
“More people will be depressed in the future. In the past we didn’t have this record of our lives that is indelible.”
Last October the charity Ditch the Label found 37% of a group of just under 1,000 13 to 25-year olds had sent a naked photo of themselves to another person and 13% of them felt pressured into doing it.
Cybersmile, which works to tackle digital abuse says it has seen an increase of around 20% in the number of inquiries it’s received about cyber-bullying and sexting in the past year.
The charity’s co-founder Dan Raisbeck says although awareness of the risks is growing amongst parents and teenagers, access to smart phones is also growing.
“Flirtatious messages online, are now seen as part of growing up and how you form relationships,” he says.
“When relationships break up we can see content that’s been sent online – ‘weaponised’ – with revenge porn and that kind of thing. It becomes extremely complex and damaging.”
Childline has seen an increase in cyber-bullying too. The charity says there’s been a 73% increase in counselling sessions about online abuse and safety between 2012 and 2014.
The charity launched an app called Zipit in October 2013 which helps children and teenagers deal with requests for explicit photos by giving them a series of joke images to send back.
It’s now been downloaded more than 60,000 times.
Supervisor Rosanne Pearce tells Newsbeat: “Cyber-bullying and sexting can cause great trauma for young girls in particular. We can’t change the fact we live in an online world – what we can do is support young people.”
After Christmas, I was using up some leftovers while the Daughter and her friends sat round the kitchen table having one of their marathon toast-fests and sharing stories of their new lives at uni. Sophie said that, at a party, a guy had walked up to her and said: “Hello, gorgeous, I’ve got a huge —. Fancy a —-?”
The other girls fell about, but the laughter sounded obligatory rather than joyful. “You don’t have to put up with that, Sophie, darling,” I found myself saying. “It’s so disrespectful. I hope you told him where to go?”
“Relax, mum,” said my daughter. She wore that stricken, pleading look which means “Oh, God, she’s not going to go off on one of her ‘Suffragettes didn’t go on hunger strike so you could post a picture of your boobs on Snapchat’ lectures, is she?”
The girls started talking about a mutual friend, only 17. Olivia’s charismatic boyfriend was a nightmare, both aggressive and controlling. Olivia kept trying to break free, but each time X reeled her back in. “I think Liv’s scared of him, but she doesn’t want to be by herself,” said Samira. The girls murmured in sympathy. For them, there was only one thing more horrifying than an abusive relationship: being single.
Later, after they’d gone, I told my daughter I was worried about Sophie. Had she really had sex with that tosser who came up to her at a party? “You just don’t get it, mum,” sighed the Daughter. “Sophie’s not really that kind of girl. It’s just if you don’t have sex, you’re a loser. Everyone does it ’cos boys expect you to. Every girl I know’s had some bad experience where it’s got kind of abusive.”
“Even you?’ I said.
“Even me,” she said.
If I was shocked to hear that conversation between lovely, bright young women, I shouldn’t have been. A new study into adolescent relationships has found that hundreds of thousands of teenage girls, some as young as 13, have been coerced into sex or sexual activity by a boyfriend. England came out far worse than other European countries, with two in five girls aged between 13 and 17 suffering sexual coercion of some sort, including rape.
’Twas ever thus, some will shrug. Boy tries to get into Girl’s knickers is as old as heavy petting in the Garden of Eden. The difference now, as pointed out by the University of Bristol’s School for Policy Studies, is the scale of coercion and the number of teenage girls sending and receiving sexual images and texts.
Almost half of 13- to 17-year-olds have “sexted”. Researchers were surprised to discover that many girls said exchanging of explicit images with boys was a “highly positive experience”, adding to the fun of flirting. However, almost all the girls said that the experience turned negative if the boy shared the image with friends, making them feel humiliated.
It made me think of two shamefaced teenage girls I saw on TV the other night. They confessed that they became different characters on social media. You could be a bully, you could be lewd and crude, you could be whoever you wanted to be.
“In space, no one can hear you scream” goes the great line from Alien. Kids seem to believe the same applies to social media. They are seriously mistaken. Teenage courtship rituals, essentially unchanged for decades, have been discarded as our children are handed explosive new toys, which even fully-grown Members of Parliament are too immature to handle.
Boys are literally getting the message that girls are permanently up for it when the truth is girls may just feel under huge social pressure to display their wares without necessarily being ready to hand over the goods. And all this happens without any meaningful human contact.
What a pity the Bristol study didn’t include the experience of boys. “You’d be amazed what girls will do, mum,” my 15-year-old son said to me recently. I feel so sorry for him and his generation. Social media is a lawless Wild West without a sheriff. There is no map to help hormonal youngsters navigate a safe path. If boys end up with a warped view of female sexuality, it’s hardly surprising: if all girls feel obliged to flash their tits to attract a mate, it’s not the sexual freedom their grandmothers wished for. It’s just a more open prison.
Such is the confusion out there they have actually invented something called a “consensual-sex app”, which kids can use to ask their partner’s permission to have sex. Good2Go “allows the sex-initiator to forego outdated modes of courting, like foreplay, or talking to your partner”. Instead, they can hand you their phone and get you to answer a series of questions, including whether you are “Sober”, “Mildly Intoxicated but Good2Go” or “Pretty Wasted”. If you’re Pretty Wasted, the phone will instruct you not to have sex.
Who says romance is dead, St Valentine? Imagine what the Bard would have made of this new intimacy: “Let us not to the marriage of two true sex initiators admit impediment. Love is not love which makes a move when Sex Initiator 1 is pretty wasted.”
Schools should urgently put a new subject on the curriculum: Sex, Self-Respect and Social Media. Young people need to be taught that the same standards apply to your character in the real and the online world.
Finally, to girls and boys aged 13 to 17, a word of advice from your Auntie Allison. Before you press Send, ask yourself one small question: “Would I like my mum and dad to see this photo of me?”
The children’s charity says its own survey in 2013 found 40% of teenagers had created a sexual image or video.
Meanwhile, pupils, teachers and parents are meeting politicians at the Senedd to push for online safety to be taught in schools.
The Welsh government has also organised e-safety awareness raising activities in schools across Wales
First Minister Carwyn Jones said: “While we actively encourage young people to embrace the internet’s huge potential, it’s vitally important they are equipped with the skills and knowledge needed to do it safely and responsibly.”
Prof Shaheen Shariff says children involved in sexting are getting ‘younger and younger’
“The research we did recently, which is in my book, found that kids aged 9-12 and then 13-17 don’t quite understand where they cross the line from jokes and flirty fun when sexting or distributing intimate images to where they are actually breaking the law.
“It’s everybody’s responsibility. If it involves classmates there’s an obligation to the school but it’s important that parents are involved.
“We need to start looking at the bigger picture and to look at rape culture, to look more deeply at the roots of cyber bullying and sexting.
“Research has always focused on children’s behaviour online but we need to look at the systemic forms of misogyny, homophobia and discrimination – these are the forms that sexting and cyberbullying are rooted in and adults are the worst models of this.
“Until we address what adults are doing we really can’t blame the kids for copying us.”