Image-Based Abuse: Important Insight For Every Parent

I recently read a study from the eSafety Commissioner that found almost 50% of teenagers who had been involved in a sexting scenario had been pressured or coerced into sending an explicit image of themselves.

As a parent and an educator, I find this terrifying and absolutely heartbreaking.

Working closely with teens means we often have a front-row seat to witnessing the struggles that youth can face. These struggles often stem from the normalisation around sexting and even the promotion of digital sexualised behaviour. As parents, it’s critical for us to be aware of the way pop culture has presented sexting as an appropriate stepping stone within modern relationships.

Below is a collection of confronting and in my opinion, quite alarming examples of the advocation and encouragement of sexting from the media

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Sexting has become so normalised within pop culture that there is now a national ‘Send a Nude Day’ in the United States. No joke.

The consensual taking and receiving of sexually explicit images can be difficult enough for us digital immigrants to wrap our heads around. However, the alarming amount of pressure and coercion that teens can be facing, can feel inconceivable.

Let’s just stop for a minute and really think this through… young people are being pressured, forced and/ or coerced to send sexualised images of themselves to other people. We have a problem!! We are so passionate about equipping parents with a thorough understanding of image-based Abuse so that they are equipped to help their children, our kids need us!

Image-based Abuse (IBA) is the taking, sharing or threatening to share sexual images of a person without their consent.

As a teenager, my parents had strict rules about who was allowed in my room and when. I’m pretty sure we also had an open-door policy. Today, when a young person walks into their room with a device, any person can potentially be in that room, through that device, with your child. This of course is happening regardless of whether you approve or not.

Let me share 4 things I’d encourage every parent to consider when it comes to your child’s online engagement.

  1. Be in the know about the online activities your child is engaging in; what apps have they downloaded, which social media platforms are they using?
  2. Have conversations with your child about how they are socialising on these platforms; whom they follow, what they post, how much time they’re spending online.
  3. Put policies in place around when, how and where your children are accessing social media; time limits, rules around bedtime etc.
  4. Think about specific boundaries you can put in place to ensure safer online activity; having access to their pins and passcodes, knowing whom they befriend online etc.

If we want to help our children make positive, healthy choices as well as reach out to us when they make a mistake or experience pressure, then we must get involved. The thought of a young person experiencing image-based abuse and feeling like they can’t reach out to the person that loves and cares for them the most is a truly horrifying thought.

Our kids deserve conversations.

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