That's what the girl texted the other night to a boy that she knows that attends another school. He actually said “no” but the pictures began to appear. What the teen didn't stop to consider was where the boy happened to be- he wasn't alone at home. In fact, he was at a party with a bunch of other kids. The minute she sent the first text the entire room of boys and girls not only knew she sent it, they were all waiting to see the pictures.
That story, relayed to me by my teen, no longer shocks me. In fact, I've been hearing stories of kids sending nudes the entire time my child's been in middle school so I don't even bat an eye. The reason? It's not just a couple of bad or promiscuous kids that are sending the pics- it's a lot of teens. Many of them great kids with good grades that cheer, play sports and are popular. That's what really shocks me.
When I was in middle school, I would never have considered showing my naked body to a boy. Of course, back in the old days, I would've had to do it the old-fashioned way- in person which is pretty uncomfortable and yes, personal. Today, there's nothing personal about showing your naked body to another teen. All you must have is a phone, a couple of minutes alone in your room and someone willing to peek on the other end. It's far too easy for these kids to send nudes. It's also far too easy for the pictures to spread all over a school (or in our town a few schools) within a matter of minutes. Pretty scary.
As parents, we all think it will never be our kid that will send pictures or look at pictures but honestly, we can't control them. We can only educate them about texting and social media and teach them to respect their bodies- make the sending nudes thing more personal than they really think it is.
Here are my suggestions if you want to educate your kid to not send nudes.
Explain the meaning of “privates”– there's a reason they've been called that for hundreds of years- they're supposed to be kept private. I never wanted to embarrass my developing tween, but I was pretty clear to discuss what was happening with her body and modesty was the best policy. Now that she's a teen, we can't hide her gorgeous figure, but she can still keep it under wraps.
Talk about self-worth– Girls and boys should never be objectified and yes, I said it that way on purpose. We always talk about boys talking about girls as sex objects but girls do it too. Both sexes need to understand that there is so much more to being beautiful or handsome- inside counts too.
Discuss the evils of social media– For some reason, teens still think that Snap Chat pictures are gone and that if they Kik something, the other person will keep it private. Guess what? They won't. Once you put something out there, it's out there for good. Anyone can screen shot and send it along its way.
Get all their passwords– For their phone and social media accounts. Yes, there are programs where you can secretly monitor your kid's social media, however why not just tell them you're going to do it. Kids don't have the best judgment. It's up to us to keep them safe. You can read all my tips about monitoring your teen's social media here.
Tell your kid to never take nude photos– While this may not happen, set the record straight on how you feel about the issue. Be open and honest with your child. Let them know that kids are doing it and it's wrong. In many states, it's actually illegal.
Let them know the punishment if they're caught– Set the punishment right up front. Let your teen know that if they send nude photos they will lose their phone for an extended period of time or all technology if necessary. If they choose to break the rules, be consistent in your punishment. If you don't enforce, it has no impact.
Talk to your teen– The best way to prevent your teen from sending nude pictures? Open dialogue. Encourage them to talk about their day, what's going on with their friends and what's important to them. Lots of things can be discussed at the dinner table. Great coaching moments happen there.