Think be­fore you send nudes

Cape Breton Post - - EDITORIAL -

When a teenager from At­lantic Canada was asked by a stranger for nude photos over the smart­phone ap­pli­ca­tion Snapchat in the past few weeks, they re­ported the sit­u­a­tion to a par­ent.

Shar­ing nude or semi-nude photos through apps like Snapchat is not rare. With Snapchat, the mes­sage or photo dis­ap­pears af­ter it is sent, al­though it can be re­played and a screen­shot can be taken. But it no­ti­fies the sender if that has taken place.

If you ask a teenager if they have sent in­ap­pro­pri­ate photos, there would be quite a few who have. Maybe it’s the gen­er­a­tion, maybe it’s the easy ac­cess to the In­ter­net, maybe it’s the pres­sure of peers, but over­all, it’s a com­mon oc­cur­rence.

Ac­cord­ing to DoSome­thing.org, al­most 40 per cent of teenagers have posted or sent sex­u­ally sug­ges­tive mes­sages, 22 per cent of teen girls and 18 per cent of teen boys have sent nude or semi-nude photos of them­selves and 15 per cent sent them to peo­ple they know only through the In­ter­net.

The term used for this type of be­hav­iour is called “sex­ting.”

If you’re a par­ent of an ado­les­cent, ask your­self this, “Would my child send nude photos to some­one else over the In­ter­net or through text? And if they were asked for one, would they tell me?”

As­sum­ing they wouldn’t send a photo or be­liev­ing they tell you ev­ery­thing might be the first thing par­ents think. But, DoSome­thing.org notes that 61 per cent of those who do send these types of photos are pres­sured into it.

Sev­eral young women in Canada have taken their lives be­cause of threats and ex­po­sure they never wanted to have. Amanda Todd, a Van­cou­ver-area teenager with rel­a­tives who live in Nova Sco­tia, was one of those girls.

In an on­line video that she filmed be­fore she com­mit­ted sui­cide, she said she was black­mailed af­ter ex­pos­ing her breasts for some­one over we­b­cam. That photo even­tu­ally be­gan cir­cu­lat­ing around the In­ter­net.

That’s not al­ways the out­come. The stu­dent who re­ported the sit­u­a­tion to their par­ent opened a topic that some par­ents don’t even know ex­ists. The lo­cal school re­ported it on their Face­book page so that stu­dents and par­ents could open the con­ver­sa­tion up with each other. No other re­ports have sur­faced of sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tions in the re­gion.

Teenagers have the right to their own bod­ies. They have the right to say no. They have the right to pri­vacy. But with apps and web­sites like Snapchat, Face­book, In­sta­gram, and be­ing in the dig­i­tal age, a photo taken right now can be on the other side of the world in a flash.

For those who are con­sid­er­ing send­ing nudes or tak­ing part in sex­ting, think be­fore you snap and send. Do you trust this per­son? Are you com­fort­able hav­ing a photo of you out there po­ten­tially for oth­ers to see? Will you re­gret it once you send it?

Snapchat can be a great com­mu­ni­ca­tion tool, es­pe­cially for teens and young adults. Just be care­ful who you send your snaps to.

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