Sexting on the rise among Singapore teens?

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Sexting on the rise among Singapore teens?

Postby Nebbermind » Mon May 07, 2012 8:02 am

Sexting on the rise among Singapore teens?
Those who send nude pictures of themselves often don't think it's wrong or potentially harmful
04:45 AM May 06, 2012
by Teo Xuanwei

Every other week, Annie (not her real name) would send her boyfriend, who is serving National Service, a couple of pictures of herself in the nude.
"When he asked for it initially, I thought, 'It could be fun, and it will keep him missing me', so I started doing it. It definitely builds up the excitement until he meets me on weekends," the 18-year-old undergraduate said. "I don't think it's a big deal because it's quite common. I've heard of several people doing it."
Indeed, of the 10 male and female teenagers aged between 14 and 19 Today spoke to, all said they think "sexting" is now commonplace among their peers - pointing to the rising prevalence of such a phenomenon here, apparently.
Said Colleen Ng, 16: "Some of my friends already post very 'daring' photos on their Facebook page or blog. I'm quite sure that they are sexting with their boyfriends, too."
Andrew Lim, 16, added: "Some of my friends have shown me such pictures on their phones but I'm not sure if the girls are their friends or girlfriends or not."


Some experts, however, believe sexting is not as widespread here as some may perceive. There has been no in-depth research of this issue locally. The anecdotal evidence is sometimes conflicting.
UniSIM Business School's head of communication programme Brian Lee, who has conducted various studies in youths' media behaviour over the past decade, said a survey he conducted among 420 polytechnic students a few months ago showed that less than 1 per cent of the respondents sent or received sexts.
But focus groups that he had conducted revealed that "almost all" the participants had heard that their friends had received or sent such messages, Dr Lee added.
Ms Iris Lin, a senior social worker with Fei Yue Family Service Centre, said they have not come across any youths who have sought help because of issues relating to sexting.
But she disagrees that the practice is not prevalent - the truth of the matter "depends on whether and how much the youths want to reveal" when asked, she said.


Whether or not sexting is catching on among teenagers here, the experts concur that the age of this vulnerable group alone is cause for greater scrutiny and safeguards.
"Some youths may think the physical aspects of a relationship are everything or worry that, if they turn down the request, they may be seen as not exciting, spontaneous or bold enough," said Ms Lin. "The possible consequences (of sexting) are in their heads, but it's not enough to stop them because they care only for instant gratification most of the time."
Mr Daniel Koh, a psychologist at Insights Mind Centre, added: "Some of them think: 'This will not happen to me', or 'I can always go back to my normal life after a few years if the pictures are leaked'. But teenagers need to realise that it's not as private or confidential as they think it is, even if they are sending to someone they feel they can trust. Once leaked, it isn't something that can just be erased."
He noted that accidental exposure of these intimate photos or videos could also go beyond the embarrassment and shame. "It could lead to bigger issues, like depression, breakdown in family relationships or an inability to trust," he said.


Zoe (not her real name), the only other teenager among those interviewed by Today who revealed she engages in sexting, said she recently realised the gravity of the situation should things go awry, after reading about a court case in March.
A young couple was charged in court for extorting money from a man after they scammed him into undressing in front of a webcam.
Said the 17-year-old: "I never felt anything in the past when I watched the leaked videos of celebrities or sex pictures of some local polytechnic girls. It was only after the case that I seriously thought of the possible scenarios - if my nude photos are leaked because my boyfriend loses his handphone, or if our relationship suddenly goes wrong."
Stronger laws - it is already an offence to possess, circulate or distribute obscene materials in Singapore - could be part of the solution, opines Dr Lee. Although it might be a stop-gap solution, it will "send a strong signal to youths", he said.
Besides educating young children on cyber wellness, Ms Lin said parents need to impart values to their kids.
She said: "It's about going beyond the knowledge that some things are wrong, but why it is wrong."

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Re: Sexting on the rise among Singapore teens?

Postby Nebbermind » Mon May 07, 2012 8:07 am

Teen sexting: The new bullying epidemic
Girls as young as 12 are falling victim to having sexually explicit photos of themselves circulated
04:45 AM May 06, 2012

Last month, a 14-year-old boy from Cheltenham, in Britain, made headlines when he was arrested for posting a pornographic video of himself and his girlfriend on Facebook.
For many adults, the reaction was disbelief and horror. But for teenagers themselves? "It's so commonplace that I doubt many would bat an eyelid," says 16-year-old Amy. "If I asked around, I could probably get 10 to 20 photos that have been sent around or put on Facebook in under an hour."
Amy's reaction isn't unusual. Sexting - sending sexually provocative pictures, messages or video clips via a phone or the Internet - has become an "epidemic", according to Sherry Adhami of the charity Beatbullying.
"We're seeing it more and more - we've even seen it in primary schools," she says. "It's 100-per-cent classless; this affects children whether they're in deprived or affluent areas."
But the result can be devastating. When Jane was just 12, explicit photos of her were posted online.
"It felt like everyone in the street was looking at me," says Jane, now 15. "I was terrified someone would tell me they had seen me on the 'Net. Because of this, I refused to go out in public and didn't feel I could trust even my closest friends."
When Beatbullying carried out a poll of 2,000 children in 2009, they found a third of children had received a sexually explicit message online, while a quarter had received an image.
Research from Plymouth University reveals that 40 per cent of 14- to 16-year-olds say they have friends who have engaged in sexting. Worryingly, nearly 20 per cent did not think there was anything wrong with full nudity in such images, while 40 per cent thought toplessness was acceptable.


While sexual experimentation has always been part of teenage life, experts fear that young people are being coerced into providing explicit photos online, which are then shared without their consent via phones and social networking sites - a process known as "doxing".
"For the first time in human history, everyone has got a camera in their pocket," says Jonathan Baggaley of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre. "And with apps like Instagram you can share a picture across multiple platforms at the click of button."
According to Jon Brown of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, unlike the Cheltenham case, most teenagers share photos via BlackBerry Messenger (BBM): "Unlike Facebook, it's a closed network - you have to invite people and have a PIN."
Amy knows of a case where BBM was used to hideous effect: "There was a photo taken of a 16-year-old boy and a 15-year-old girl having sex. The photo was sent around and the school had to intervene because lots of people put it as their BBM profile picture.
"The school spoke to the girl and told off anyone mentioning the photo in class, but they couldn't really do much else."
It is very often the girl who is pressurised into exposing themselves online, and is then humiliated. "Girls feel coerced into sharing pictures," says Brown. "Boyfriends normalise it - it's the whole 'If you really love me' argument.
"And it's often basic sexism, with girls being seen as boys' property. We've seen pictures where girls write across their breasts 'I belong to X [the boyfriend's name]'."


"Girls aged 12 to 14 are naturally experimenting in many aspects of their life - with one, of course, being sex," says Ms Tink Palmer of the Marie Collins Foundation (MCF), a charity set up to help young people who have suffered abuse via phone or the net. "When it comes to sex online, the opportunities to [experiment] are greater and there is little parental control. [Teenagers] rarely give a second thought to the implications of their behaviour."
Lucy, a 16-year-old, was helped by MCF after becoming a victim of sexting when she was just 13. She recalls: "It is impossible to try to explain the feeling when you realise that, what you thought was a private relationship with someone who really cared about you, was nothing of the sort."
"He was 16 and I felt flattered that someone of that age should fancy me. I definitely thought I was in love with him and would have done anything he asked - so when he asked me to send pictures of myself naked, although I felt a bit awkward, I agreed. He sent them on to his friends, the whole school seemed to know about it ... the fall-out for me was terrible."
The most serious sexting case to date concerns Jessica Logan, 18, from Ohio. Using her mobile, she sent her then-boyfriend a nude photograph of herself - but after they broke up he sent it to their friends.
Logan was labelled a "slut", "skank" and a "whore". She started skipping school to avoid her tormentors. Eventually, she hanged herself, leaving her phone in the centre of the room where she committed suicide.
"The Logan case shows that sexting and doxing can't be dismissed as youthful hijinks," says Professor Andy Phippen, who carried out the Plymouth research. "We also have to be concerned that normal behaviour is being distorted.
"What happens when these people grow up? They need to understand that if they fancy a colleague, for example, they ask them out for a drink - they don't send them an explicit picture of themselves."


Baggaley thinks the rise of easily accessible online pornography is to blame. "Young people are accessing far harder pornographic images than 10 or 15 years ago," he says.
"We have to ask, does that influence what they themselves put out on the internet?" Teenage boys often think that unrealistic pornographic scenarios equate to normal sexual behaviour.
And he also warns that young people are putting themselves at risk from child sex offenders. Teenagers are increasingly using webcams to experiment sexually, not just with their boyfriend or girlfriend but with a wider audience - using services like Skype, webcam chat rooms or sites like Chatroulette, where you talk to a random stranger.
"Child sex offenders are no longer looking to meet up, as they can abuse victims via a webcam," says Baggaley. "There's not even the traditional grooming process - we see abusers simply resorting to blackmail - recording a webcam feed (or pretending to) and then saying that they will send it to all the child's friends if the child doesn't do more extreme acts."


All the charities are united in their belief that parents and teachers need to be far better informed. "It's about being there to support your children if it does happen," says Phippen, "but also being responsible - not using computers and mobile phones as an electronic nanny, and thinking about restricting time online after 10pm."
"Teachers also tell us that they're not sufficiently trained - that they need help," adds Brown. "The government and industry, who are raking in millions through smartphones, should take a lead role in bringing in a clearer set of guidelines on the use and abuse of such phones."
"We need young people to realise that if you take an indecent picture of an under-18, you are breaking the law," concludes Baggaley. "And while they might be happy sharing a picture with their boyfriend or girlfriend, they should know a large amount of this self-taken material ends up in the collections of child sex offenders. Finally, is it something they'd be happy with their mother or grandmother seeing?"
But how seriously will teens take this advice? After all, they live in a world where sharing any type of image has become the norm. The Cheltenham teenager in question subsequently (and proudly) published a photo of himself on Twitter holding up the local newspaper front page with the story of his arrest.

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Re: Sexting on the rise among Singapore teens?

Postby Chenonceau » Mon May 07, 2012 8:41 am

I think that when this generation of kids grow up into Moms and Dads, they will raise their children differently. I spent many years in France during my formative years. Sexual permissiveness was rampant in that time. French youths today are defined by the opposite of what defined their parents' teens. There is a movement among French teens towards being "pudique" (modest). Emma Watson best embodies this spirit and it is gainin traction amongst French youths ... iques.html. The article is in French but you might get a comprehensible translation from Google Translate? ... mma_Watson

I raised my kids against the backdrop of the sexual permissiveness that I observed during my younger days. I knew what to help them look out for. I knew what to say and do to help them develop modesty. In contrast to many parents who simply refuse to talk about the issue, and allow TV, internet and other youths/adults to educate their children's sexuality.

Wait one generation and the pendulum could well swing the other way.

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