Take time to watch this Ted Talk of Monica Lewinsky discussing her experience of public shaming in 1998. If you think it’s appropriate, we would encourage you to watch this with your teen children and discuss her experience and how it is relevant to the topic of sexting and the experience of young people today.
Points to consider.
The importance of empathy. Discuss with your child how important empathy is when it comes to sexting. Perhaps discuss your own thoughts around this:
Were you empathetic towards Monica Lewinsky in 1998?
How do you feel now after watching this clip?
Are young people in your child’s world empathetic towards others who may have become victim of a sexting scandal?
Are adults empathetic towards young people who may have become victim of a sexting scandal?
Discuss some examples of how empathy can be shown towards a young person who is involved in a sexting scandal.
“I’ve seen some very dark days in my life. It was the compassion and empathy from my family, friends, professionals and sometimes even strangers that saved me. Even empathy from one person can make a difference.”
Discuss the perspective of the victim.
Discuss what it must have felt like to be Monica Lewinski after the news of her affair became public. Consider how this relates to a young person who has had a nude image of themselves circulated. How does this affect them immediately, in the short-term and in the long-term? How could sending a nude pic become a dangerous situation for someone that you know?
Discuss the perspective of a perpetrator.
Why do people sometimes say hateful things about other people online?
Why do they do this?
Why do people sometimes circulate private images of another person?
What are the consequences of this?
Discuss the perspective of the bystander.
What is the responsibility of someone who receives a nude image of someone that wasn’t intended for them?
What should that person do with that image?
How could they respond to the person who sent the image?
How could they respond to the person who is photographed in the image? Discuss the opportunity to show kindness to someone who is in a difficult situation.
Is kindness always appropriate?
This exercise is not about educating your child. This is an opportunity to build a line of communication between you and your child. Take time to hear their opinion and consider your own perspective carefully. Guide them towards a perspective of empathy and towards an understanding of the consequences that can sometimes be involved when it comes to sexting.
Today we will start with the importance of discussing intimacy with young people.
Talk to your child about what true intimacy looks like.
It would seem that many young people are experiencing sex without the co-existence of intimacy. In the wake of a pornographic culture we are seeing more and more young people who have a great knowledge of the act of sex without the understanding of the pleasure, joy and fulfillment that intimacy within sex can bring. One of the big fears that teenagers share with us in our seminars is the fear they have around the act of sex. The average young person in Australia will be exposed to pornography by the age of 11. This exposure has seen many young people believing that sex is purely a performance. The greatest fear that they are facing in the area of sex, dating and relationships is that they won’t be good in the bedroom. Young people, all too often are missing a key part of the beauty and magnificence of sex – intimacy.
Kerry Conin the associate director of the Lonergan Institute in Boston says about her presentations to college age students;
I don’t talk all that much about sex, because I find that what really concerns young adults – what really scares them, what fascinates them – are not really questions about sex, but rather questions of intimacy.” Help your teen see that intimacy is a key part of a healthy meaningful relationship.
Jack and Judith Balswickin their book ‘The Family‘ define intimacy as “to know and be known”
It is important to discuss with young people how intimacy includes sharing our thoughts, hopes, dreams and feelings with the other person. Many young people see sex as true intimacy, however much of youth culture encourages sex without true connection.
Talking through what intimacy looks like can be helpful for young people. Two relationships that involve intimacy that most young people are familiar with are listed below;
Intimacy between parent and child
A healthy relationship between parent and child holds intimacy partly because of the nurturing aspect. The nurturer nurtures without return. As the family evolves intimacy develops in many ways. “the expression of emotions- anger, hurt, love, joy, sadness or affection is essentially how family members become more intimately acquainted” Family members can confidently express themselves without fear, they become vulnerable to the other, and the other, in their response, in turn becomes vulnerable to them.
Intimacy found in friendship
True friendships are also a great picture of intimacy. While the very act of forming a friendship requires a certain level of vulnerability, the continuation of friendship requires, for its success, intimacy. It’s the kind of intimacy that says ‘I chose you amongst others to see me, and I chose you amongst others to be seen by me’
We always encourage young people to sow deeply into the friendships in their lives. Great relationship lessons are learnt when we chose to be intimate within the context of friendship.
Helping young people think through this aspect of romantic/ sexual relationships is a crucial element to them having the kind of relationships that they desire now or in the future.
Questions to Discuss
Does sex always require intimacy? Can sex be void of intimacy?
What are some of the consequences of sex without intimacy? Are there benefits?
Do you think being emotionally intimate is important in a healthy relationship?
How long does it take to develop true intimacy in a relationship?
There is so much confusion for young people when it comes to obtaining information on love, sex, dating and intimacy. A clip posted by Roosh V has recently received some negative attention for his extreme misogynistic views. While we watched the short youtube clip there was a temptation to laugh.. is this real? It almost seems fictional! Amongst his 36 points on ‘what’s wrong with American women’ are the following;
They are fat.
They don’t know how to cook.
They wear flip flops even when they aren’t at the beach.
They acquire pets, instead of putting in the work to land a quality man.
They make lame excuses for not putting effort into their appearance.
They rarely wear high heels.
Of course, this is no laughing matter and yes- people like this really do exist!!! The extremity of his opinions feature just one of the many confusing and damaging messages that can be bombarding young people every single day. We believe that every young person deserves and desperately craves healthy conversations around the topics of sex, dating and relationships. Unfortunately in the void of such conversations we see young people finding misleading and damaging information.
Over the next few weeks, we will provide some basic points of discussion that you as parents can be having with your children around these very important topics. If we, as parents aren’t taking bold and deliberate steps in the sexual and relationship mentoring of our children, unfortunately, others will take our place.
A Sunday telegraph article on the weekend (27/9/15) headed “chlamydia rampant in teens” featured this advice: “parents may have to step up to the plate with the birds and bees talk after climbing chlamydia rates in teenagers suggest safe – sex education at school is failing our kids”
Experts estimate 500,000 young Australians have Chlamydia. That’s a lot! Chlamydia can in the early stages be treated with a course of antibiotics. Unfortunately if it’s left to its own devices it will slowly cause blockages in the Fallopian tubes to the point where conception becomes difficult and at worst impossible. Chlamydia is now one of the leading causes of infertility in our nation. When I ask the young women who I work with how many of them would at some point like to become a parent, I am encouraged by the response. So many young women have aspirations of motherhood at some stage in the future. Chlamydia has stolen the gift of parenthood from far too many! Despite such high rates of this STI in Australia, many young people are surprised to hear of its prevalence and the way it can affect their future.
I’ve spoken to young women who are concerned that they may have contracted chlamydia and are wanting to have a sexual health check-up but are fearful about talking to their parents.
Our message to parents is clear; provide a place where your child can discuss topics such as STI’s. The greatest tragedy, I believe is for a young person who due to fear hides individual choices they have made from their parents. In their hiding, they miss their window of opportunity to be screened by a health professional and receive treatment for an STI like chlamydia, which can be treated in the early stages. Articles like this one are an excellent tool for parents to begin open conversations with their child that are caring and informed. Every young person deserves the opportunity to have healthy discussions about these topics.
Long gone are the days of Porn being something we needed to search for and dig up. No more buying magazines in a stealth way from the corner shop, it’s all changed and you’ll be shocked to see some of the statistics around this consumption. Who knew adult websites are responsible for 4.41 percent of all desktop visits in the internet worldwide (in Feb 2015)? Read and learn and be informed.