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I'm not ready for this. I think (but I am not positive) that one of my 13-year-old daughter's friends sent nude pictures of herself to her boyfriend. I heard a conversation while driving a few of the girls home from a friends house. I understand that the way I approach this topic is important so that my daughter feels comfortable in talking with me. I could use some help on how to handle the discussion. By the way, my daughter is pretty naive in these matters.


Jill Brown Replied: Isn't driving a carpool a great resource for finding out those things that are going on in our kids' and their friends' lives? Use that same concept in their on-line lives. I suggest social networking and texting with your child and their friends. It is important to know their passwords and make a habit of checking their social networking and text messages on a nightly basis. My suggestion to open the lines of communication about sexting with your daughter is to Google the name Cynthia Logan. Cynthia Logan's daughter committed suicide after the nude picture she sent to her boyfriend was forwarded throughout the school and surrounding schools, following their breakup. The ridiculing, teasing and tormenting that she went through after being exposed to thousands of people was too much for her to bear. All of our kids start out naive. It is our job as parents to teach our kids appropriate behaviors. It is important that we teach them and explain the consequences of our actions. Besides the mental consequences that could result from her nude picture being shown to others, there are legal consequences for everyone involved. Once a nude picture of a child is taken, it is considered child pornography. Once the nude picture is sent or forwarded via cell phone or internet, it is considered distribution of child pornography. Anyone caught distributing child pornography can be charged as a sex offender. Sex offenders carry this with them and can affect their opportunities with college and careers. Start social networking with your daughter. is a website that is meant to be done with parent and child. It gives you the opportunity to be involved in your child's on-line life. As you witness posts or pictures that you think need guidance, talk to your child about how their actions can lead to specific consequences. Use these situations as "teachable moments." As far as you daughter's friend, it is absolutely necessary that you contact the girl's parents, as well as the boyfriend's parents. As an adult, you have the power to save a lot of lives by reaching out to them and letting them know this might have happened. Make sure they check the "mms" messages on the cell phones; this is where you can find pictures.
Posted On 2010-06-16 15:34:54
James Crist Replied: This phenomenon (known as "sexting") is of increasing concern. In a recent study, 20% of teens admitted to engaging in this activity. While teens see this as harmless or funny, the fact is that it is against the law to send and possess these pictures. Even though it is a teen sending it to another teen, it is still considered by distributing child pornography and can lead to legal charges. In addition, once the pictures are sent, there is no control over who else sees these pictures. In one case, a girl committed suicide after her ex-boyfriend send such pictures to his friends. Since you are not positive that this actually occurred, I would suggest talking with your daughter first without being accusatory. Ask her what she knows, if she has seen these pictures, and thank her for being willing to talk with you about this. Then let her know about the possible legal issues and why you would like to talk with her friend's parents about it. Yes, it may be uncomfortable, and yes, she may be upset with you. But better to deal with this issue now rather than wait until others discover the pictures and report them.
Posted On 2009-04-28 22:16:15
Dr. Tom Greenspon Replied: Who is ever ready for this?! Actually, it's a golden opportunity to begin a dialogue that could be ongoing, and that could be a source of real connection between you and your daughter. Tell her that you happened to overhear her conversation, and that you couldn't help but wonder if she had any thoughts about the incident in question. It raises so many issues. What does she think about kids sending nude pictures to each other? What is the message? How private are those photos? Who else might see them, on a cell phone or a computer? Might someone, to be mean, get these pictures and make them public? This would be a good starting point, too, for a conversation about dating, romantic relationships, and sexuality in general. Ask if she has thought about this. Tell her there are many things the two of you could talk about; if she is reluctant, tell her you know it can be embarrassing, that it's hard for you to talk about it too, and that she can think about it and you will check with her later to see if she would like to talk or just to listen. There is no "right" thing to say here! As long as you can keep a dialogue going, you can agree to think some more about an issue, you can change your mind after further reflection, or you can add to something you have talked about. Muddling through this topic -- together -- is the best way to come to some common understanding of values and of choices.
Posted On 2009-04-27 13:20:13
Amy and Charles Miron Replied: We'd suggest that you start the conversation with something positive, like "I'm really proud of the way you're growing up." or "It isn't easy being 13, but I think you're doing a great job." Then tell your daughter that you've heard that someone her age sent naked pictures of herself to her boyfriend. Ask her what she thinks about that. Listen carefully and don't interrupt. If your daughter responds in a way that you agree with, reinforce the heck out of it with things like, "Gosh, you're amazing." "I'm so impressed by your good judgement." If your daughter responds in a way you do not like, calmly explain your thoughts and the reasons why you feel the way you do. Be careful not only about what you say, but watch out for the way you say it. (content vs process). You might want to point out that what may seem "cool" when you're 13, may not be so cool when you're 17 and trying to get a job or into a college that might see what's on the great public viewing space called the internet. You never know!
Posted On 2009-04-25 22:08:51
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