I still remember the first time I ever gave somebody nude photos. I was 18, and technically I didn’t give them to him – he took the photos. We’d been messing around on his bed (a mattress on the floor of his dorm room) and he jokingly asked if he could take a picture of my breasts in the sunshine. To his complete surprise, I said yes. We were both pretty shy about it, to be honest. I think he still has those photos, and he’s definitely never shown anyone.
Flash forward a few years, and I’m a student teacher trying to deal with two 13-year-old girls in my class who are sharing photos of an underage boy’s penis during my lesson. I think they screenshotted it from a Snapchat that one of the girl’s boyfriends had sent, but the logistics are still blurry.
As a barely-adult, I have no idea what to do: I am definitely not allowed to see the picture as it is child pornography, they are refusing to hand it over to me, and now the whole class knows this boy’s name and what his penis looks like (if the girls are to be believed). It’s a different world, and it happened in the span of about 3 years.
Today, more than half of 16-25 year olds believe it’s normal to send nude photos or videos to someone you’re in a relationship with. Casual photos over snapchat, texting, Tinder, Bumble, Skype, Instagram … Young men are famous for sending unsolicited pics, but then those pictures get screenshotted and sent around. Women are asked constantly for photos, and feel like they are part of dating, a necessary thing to do, like making out.
The other day, I asked a few Year 8’s if they knew why it was a bad idea to send nudes. “Oh, because of revenge porn, or people sending it to other people,” they said, with no hesitation. They all knew: and yet, statistically about half of 6th formers have probably sent nudes at some point.
Just because young people are doing it, doesn’t mean they like it: research from statusonline.org shows that most young people (55%) regret sharing nude material with their partner. Young women in particular wish they’d never shared nude photos, with 64% saying they regret sending them. The polling, carried out by Survation, has also found that young people often receive intimate or nude material unsolicited; more than 40% of 16-25 year-olds have received a nude photo or video of someone that they didn’t want. Digging deeper, there is a marked difference between male and female attitudes to spontaneously sharing naked selfies – 60% of young women find them a major turnoff, compared to only 15% of young men.
So, before you send that picture, think. Do you really want to send it? Does the other person really want it? Can you really trust them to not share it on? Even if you’ve been asked for nudes, the other person shouldn’t mind if you say no. And if they do, then you know to shut that conversation down!