Help! Junior’s sexting — What should I do?

Spotted sexually explicit messages on junior’s phone? Experts tell you how to handle the subject with them…

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You may shudder to think that your child is sharing suggestive photos of themselves, yet it is more widespread than you think.

A 2015 survey of 2,700 secondary school students showed that 4.2 per cent of upper secondary students and 1.9 per cent of lower secondary students have sent lewd images or texts on their phones. These are double the previous year’s figures.

As such behaviour becomes more prevalent among youths, unsuspecting tweens may find themselves the target of vindictive exes or “frenemies” who make these intimate images public. As a result, they might be labelled as a “slut” or friends might shun them.

“They may appear to show increasingly secretive behaviours or frequent mood changes, as well as disturbances to their sleep or changes to their appetite.”

If you chance upon your child’s sexts, Shem Yao, senior Touch Cyber Wellness coach, stresses that it’s important that you understand the situation clearly before taking any action.

Children who are affected by sexting also often display subtle behavioural changes, points out InspireJoy’s senior counsellor and play therapist Joy Ong Shu Xin. “They may appear to show increasingly secretive behaviours or frequent mood changes, as well as disturbances to their sleep or changes to their appetite.”

So, if you spot such signs, it’s time to have a heart-to-heart with junior to get to the bottom of what’s distressing them. Follow these steps…

1) Remove the explicit texts immediately

Take down any incriminating texts or sexually-suggestive images from social media or messaging platforms as soon as possible. It will prevent other users from saving them — or worse — distributing them.

While anyone can repost these, you can report posts that you want to remove from the site. Most social media platforms allow users to report — often referred to as “flag” — inappropriate posts of a sexual or offensive nature. To report a post on…

* Facebook Click on the three dots icon on the top right corner of the post. Select the “Give feedback on this post option”, then follow the given instructions.

* Instagram Click on the three dots icon on the top right corner of the post. Select the “Report Inappropriate” option, then answer the questions that follow.

* Twitter Click on the downward-pointing arrow on the top right corner of the post. Then select the “Report Tweet” option and follow the steps.

* Snapchat Press and hold on the screen as you view the post. Click on the flag icon on the bottom left-hand corner of the post. Then, select the reason for reporting the post.

When an inappropriate post is reported, the site will take steps to remove the content or reduce its reach.