Here is an alarming statistic: more than two-thirds of girls between ages 12 and 18 said they had been asked for explicit images.
Researchers at Northwestern University analyzed nearly 500 stories on an anti-cyberbullying and sexting campaign’s website came up with that number and say that the girls faced persistent requests, anger and threats from boys to send those pictures.
A psychologist named Lisa Damour, who is also a CBS news contributor, recently discussed the repercussions girls face when they refuse to send explicit photos:
“They sometimes face harassment, they sometimes face threats, they’re sometimes cut off from relationships, and this has been going on among teenagers for a while,” Damour said. “It’s something that teenagers and teenage girls have largely dealt with alone.”
Damour believes that the solution lies in not only continuing to teach teenagers to refuse to send nude photos, but also teach them to not ask for them in the first place.
“We have not made a practice of saying ‘Don’t ask for nude photos.’ And so one of the important things we need to do at this point is we need to recalibrate that norm and set rules around this,” she said. “It puts you in an awkward position, personally, socially — maybe legally,” she said. “Then we need to say don’t ask for nude photos – it puts somebody else in a terrible position to do so.”
Damour had some great advice that really resonates with the Project B3 philosophy of creating boundaries when children get their first device and starting conversations young. She said, “While the research started with 12-year-olds, begin the conversation with your kids when they get their first cellphones (or devices).”
“I think a great rule is don’t do anything with this phone you wouldn’t want your grandmother to see. So that’s a good generic way to start it. But then I think it’s time to start moving that conversation up, as kids move into 6th, 7th, 8th grade – where we really hear about this happening,” she said.
When asked about the common refrain that sexting is simply a “new norm” of the digital age, Damour said “norms are created in part by rules.”
“So if we have no rules saying don’t ask for pictures, we’re not creating the norms we want to create. So I think we need to actually take that extra step and make a rule for all teenagers — girls and boys. Don’t ask for these pictures,” she said. “I think it’s one that they’ve been dealing with largely without adult support and we owe them support for how they’re going to conduct their relationships now because that lays the ground work for how they’re going to conduct their relationships as adults.”
As parents with tweens and teens, this one simple rule of “Don’t ask for nudes” may have not even occurred to us, right? It may be one of the things we didn’t think we needed to mention to our kids because it seems outrageous in our minds. But…we do. We need to lay the ground rules for how our young, impressionable children navigate their online worlds. So, add it to the list, parents. Tell your child: Don’t ask for nudes and don’t send nudes. And then go over the long list of repercussions.
Portions of interview were found on CBSnews.com