Sexting Reaches our Primary Schools

We don’t need another useless educational program preaching to children about the dangers of sexting. They are preachy, don’t work and make children uncomfortable. What we need is a strong approach consisting of two important elements.

1. Clear and unambiguous consequences for those involved in sexting; and

2. Schools need to focus more squarely on setting up an environment that encourages its students to respect themselves. This kind of behaviour comes about from an abject lack of respect for one’s self. Schools should work on their culture and environment to ensure that their students are best placed to make good decisions, not just because they are sensible, but because they have an inbuilt sense of self and a regard for who they are and what they do with their lives.

Without this approach, nothing will properly discourage children from this potentially dangerous practice:

PRIMARY school children are engaging in “sexting” and experts believe parents are at a loss as to what to do about it.

UniSA academic Lesley-Anne Ey says research shows some pre-teens are taking and sending out sexually explicit photographs.

“There’s research saying the phenomenon is out there for children at primary school and I think parents might be a bit uninformed about it,” she said.

“They may think it is a risk when their children are adolescents but it’s unlikely they would think younger children would engage or be aware of that kind of behaviour.”

Ms Ey said educating children about the dangers of “sexting”, either by mobile phone or internet, had reached a point where it must be dealt with before they reached puberty.

“We need to start addressing this at primary school,” she said. “I think it’s too late when you start going into school at Years 8 or 9.”

Child protection expert Professor Freda Briggs said potential young offenders needed to be made more aware of the repercussions.

“Parents and schools need to be making young people aware that this is a criminal offence,” she said. “It’s a huge community issue and most parents don’t know what they can do about it. I think a lot of people have given up.”

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4 Responses to “Sexting Reaches our Primary Schools”

  1. Novelactivist Says:

    I’ve searched your blog and can’t find your bio. Who are you? In any case I find this comment misguided, well, no, just plain wrong.

    “his kind of behaviour comes about from an abject lack of respect for one’s self…”

    Hmm, perhaps it really comes from a quite natural curiosity and it merely replaces ‘behind the shelter shed’.

    Perhaps the real problem is that people like you are making it a problem. It should be decriminalised for a start and schools should calm down. Most kids and teens sext without consequence and the only ones who should be punished are those who forward the image to an unintended audience.

    Really, I’m heartily sick of the panic over this issue.

    • Michael G. Says:

      Thanks for the comment Novelactivist. My brief bio is on my about page: https://topicalteaching.com/about/

      Sexting is far more worrying than behind the school shelter activity. It often involves pressure (on the girl in particular) to sms a picture of themselves often in a state of undress. This is then passed around from student to student upon the break-up of the relationship. Primary schools can do without this practice. I’m not in a state of panic, I am calm, but I feel that we need to protect our students from practices which achieves little of real purpose and has the potential to cause harm.

      Having said that, I’m not sure schools should give approval to shelter shed behaviour either.

  2. Ray (Novelactivist) Says:

    It ‘often’ involves pressure? As if children never pressure other children – or play dares. What evidence is there for ‘often’?

    Is it always passed around? Or is it only sometimes passed around? Maybe even ‘rarely’ passed around?

    The panic is a ‘moral’ panic and you have just repeated the moral panic narrative – pressure, passed around, dire consequences, etc.

    As I said in my reply most teens sext without consequence. Meaning it remains private.

    I trained as a primary school teacher. I have a particular interest in developmental psychology. I too have written a novel. I also have a blog and one of the themes is The Childhood Culture Wars
    http://novelactivist.com/tag/the-childhood-culture-wars/ in which I explore some of the themes around current debates over childhood.

    Btw, I don’t think schools ever condoned ‘behind the shelter shed’ behaviour, meaning children’s natural sexual curiosity and play, most of which has always been conducted in secret out of fear of censure from adults.

    I stumbled across your blog because I have written a critique of Lesley-Anne Ey.

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