Sexting Teens: minor freedom or major problem?
“‘Sexting’ is more common than you may think, and has been found to be commonplace amongst children and young people ... Most young people do not see ‘sexting’ as a problem and are reluctant to talk to adults about it because they are afraid of being judged or having their phones taken away.” (NSPCC)
The extent of sexting by young people seemed to be confirmed by The Times in March this year when it launched the results of its enquiry into sexting. It asked 50 schools for details of sexting cases since 2012. As reported in the Telegraph: “They identified 1,218 pupils who had sent or received sexual or indecent imagery of minors on a mobile phone, digital camera or website”. Scaling this up, this was largely reported as “over 44,000 pupils”. From these reports we are given the clear impression that sexting is not just a minority pass-time of a few teenagers.
Does it matter? Maria Miller, chair of the women and equalities select committee, clearly thinks it does and has called for mandatory sex education “to help address the appalling effect of sexting on young girls and boys”. But if these reports are true, why are so many young people sexting? Is sexting a problem, or are adults just fearful of children sexting because it involves social media over which they feel little control? Perhaps sexting is an extension of an off-line relationship in the same way that Facebook is an extension of chatting? In certain circumstances sexting can be illegal. Is the involvement of the law in the intimate lives of children a useful protection or an overreaction and an infringement of intimacy?
Sally Millard, founder member of the IoI Parents forum will introduce a discussion on these questions.
Listen to the opening remarks