Exposed is a 10 minute drama about a 15-year-old girl called Dee, who makes a very common mistake of sending via (SMS – text messaging) five photos of herself to her boyfriend, nude photos. This is called “Sexting” – sending sexually suggestive images via mobile phone. In Exposed the boyfriend shares Dee’s photos with a friend, who shares them with another and then before you know it the photos are shared widely. Sexting is illegal in Washington State – it’s a felony.
Seattle Public Schools “Code of Prohibitive Conduct” portion of the Student’s Rights and Responsibilities handbook, explicitly calls out “sexting” (section D-315, page 22) as a form of sexual harassment, “…sharing electronic photos of a nude student or a student’s exposed intimate body parts with others at school regardless of where the photos were created or uploaded, including but not limited to, ‘sexting'”
According to an MTV/AP study on “digital abuse,” three in ten youths have been involved in some form of nude sexting. MTV went on to create the “A Thin Line” which provides excellent advice and content for both parents and youth to engage in discussions surrounding “Sexting.” It’s important that we educate our youth, as sexting is a crime. In Washington State, for example, the law designed to protect our youth, can actually be applied to the very same child when they are involved in sexting. The law states that a minor involved in consensual sexting with a person his or her age faces felony charges, up to five years in prison and mandatory sex offender registration.
So take a moment and watch this film, which was released on February 8, 2011 as part of the Safer Internet Day 2011. The film was produced by the UK’s Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre and targets children age 14-18. And though prepared for a UK audience, it is absolutely suitable for use by parents to share with their teens, high schools with their students and churches with their youth.
The film hits on the following educational points:
- the reasons why young people are taking and forwarding these images
the issue of trust in relationships
how photos can end up out of the hands of the intended recipient and be circulated much more widely
the speed at which images can be spread on the internet
the online and offline bullying which may occur as a result
the idea of digital footprint and online reputation
the legal implications of self-generated indent images
the process of removing content online, and where to seek further help and advice
why they should not take and send these images.
The CEOP’s Thinkuknow (TUK) Teachers and Trainers area contains resources for teachers and youth trainers to download from the Thinkuknow website – www.thinkuknow.co.uk/teachers/resources
Let’s learn from the UK example and use their content and create our own to keep our youth safe, both off-line and online.
Here are some prior pieces on harassment, cyber stalking, cyber bullying and bullying: