Parents: let’s talk about sext-ing. We parents really need to get a grip with this subject. It's all well and good that investigations happen, reports are written, the powers that be tell other powers what to do, infomercials / sex ed / e-safety classes are taught.
But now it's our turn to step up before all these authorities get involved. Under age sexual violence is a thing: child on child assaults are happening in our schools; sexual harassment, sexual bullying, sharing of sexual imagery.
With the rise of kids easily accessing the internet and all its evils, there has been an incredibly quick shift of knowledge among the young. The sneaky top shelf peeks that were dared in days gone by are now on a screen in a pocket being shared on the way to school. The embarrassment of hiding your private parts in changing rooms is replaced by the desire to send pics of your bits over the WWW. Porn is no longer taboo. A quick fumble behind the bike sheds has gravitated to a graphic, violent act.
Look I don't have solutions for this problem. My eldest is leaving primary school and we’re only now on the daily 'will she or won't she get a mobile' debate.
What I don’t get is why? Why? Why? Why? They have the learning, knowledge, expertise (more than most of us parents) to understand the dangers and the potential repercussions. So why don’t they seem to realize that the photos of their penises and vaginas can be viewed by the whole damn world? And that when they grow up and apply for jobs that those penis and vagina pics will still be there?
Is this the equivalent of us, back in the day, doing the unprotected shuffle and praying for the monthly visitor? Or waking up in the morning with a foggy head from the night before vowing never to touch that ‘stuff’ again?
So what do we do? Some parents say trust your child. Some parents vow never to give their daughters a phone again after discovering they’ve been sending naked photos to a strange man in a strange country. Is it simple enough to just hope that we have raised a kid well enough and leave the rest to the schools?
I don’t believe it is. I know we can’t wrap them in cotton wool but just as I choose not to let my pre-teen daughters stay up watching telly after the watershed, I have to make a choice about their current access to the internet. If that means they’re the only one with a crappy brick of a phone or they have to use any devices in downstairs rooms with mum or dad in it until the dangers are explained and consequences understood.
An honest look at the real consequences is shown on ITV’s police drama: Scott & Bailey which depicts an officer’s 16 year old daughter being arrested, charged and possibly placed on the sex offenders register for taking consensual sexual photos of her 15 year old boyfriend. If it wasn’t after 9pm I’d consider letting my eldest watch the relevant bits but I guess she’ll have to put up with some mum truths instead and that’s before she gets a mobile in her hand.