Last week I received an email from the BBC – yes, THE British Broadcasting Corporation, asking if little old me would like to contribute to an article they were putting together.
The subject was teenagers and the dangers of ‘Sexting’ (the sending of explicit texts, images and videos). Like me, you probably squirm at the thought of your tween or teenager ever contemplating such a thing but it’s a very real problem in our children’s world right now.
If you’re a regular follower of my blog, you will know that I was deeply concerned by an article in the Daily Mail (and subsequent Channel 4 documentary by Martin Daubney) with shocking evidence to suggest that by the age of 13, our children are regularly exposed to explicit, sexual material, being passed amongst their peers.
When asked to write an ‘open letter to my daughter warning her of the dangers of ‘Sexting’, I didn’t find it difficult. Although my daughter is only 13, I know many girls and boys of her age, for whom this is very prevalent.
If I was sitting opposite you right now, you would probably be rolling your eyes in despair…or perhaps embarrassment, but this way, I hope that you will give my words a chance.
I know that you see yourself as a grown-up teenager, able to make decisions for yourself but trust me; sometimes your “uncool” mum only has your best interests at heart. Please hear me out….
As I watch you blossom from a child into a young lady, my biggest prayer is that you retain your innocence for as long as possible. This doesn’t mean that I want to ‘baby’ you; it just means that I am trying my hardest to keep your life age-appropriate. On occasion you will think my decision and advice is unfair, even ridiculous, but as your parent, my greatest role in life is to be the gate-keeper to your heart.
Every day I see girls of your age – just 13 and still children – posting suggestive images of themselves, on Facebook and Instagram; photographs which once in the public domain, cannot be erased. I am shocked and saddened by these girls’ eagerness to flaunt their adolescent bodies, pouting in front of the camera lens, taunting young boys and even grown men. With the arrival of Snap Chat – a site which promises to leave no trace of your image online – the temptation is likely to be greater. My instinct to protect your innocence however, emerges even stronger.
Please stop and think before you post. Who is going to be seeing this image? Who might they send it on to? What impression of yourself are you leaving with that person? Please consider if it is the right one, the one that you want them to remember you by.
Can I ask one more thing? That you respect yourself – not only the teenage-self that you are now, but the adult that you will one day become. Images are difficult to forget and your reputation will follow you forever.
Keep that sensible head on and I promise you won’t ever regret it.
I wasn’t the only parent blogger asked to write a letter, take a look at the article featured on yesterday’s BBC online news magazine, to read the others.
I would be very interested to hear your views on ‘Sexting’ – is it a term you’ve come across? Are you shocked to think that your children might one day be tempted by or unwittingly exposed to this?
It could be sooner than you think; please talk to your tweens and teenagers about the dangers involved.