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Love and Sex Info
“I’ve never felt so guilty in my life,” says Anmol. He’s been with his girlfriend for two years but lately he’s found himself fantasising about her best friend.
“I don’t want to mess up my relationship over something like this but I really don't know how to get her friend out of my mind,” says Anmol. “I’m turned on every time I’m around her.”
“I take sexy pictures to show myself off,” says a girl in a Chilean TV report. “It’s a great way to boost your ego,” a 15-year-old girl adds.
Texting sexy messages or photos can spice up a relationship or keep a long-distance love affair on the boil. But it can be risky. The raunchy photos you send winging into cyberspace might come back to haunt you.
Sexting – or sexy texting – can mean exchanging erotic SMS messages, but also photos or videos.
Even if sexters don’t bare all, they can still be putting themselves at risk, says Jorge Flores Fernandez, founder of FriendlyScreens.com, a Spanish initiative to promote cyber safety for young people.
Sexting probably started about a decade ago with couples sending each other erotic SMS messages. But now it’s also possible to send high quality photos and films, and a growing number of young people are free and easy sharing sexy pictures of themselves.
It can be a risky business, says Flores, who researches social networking and works on improving awareness among young people in the use of sexting.
Take the infamous case of Jessy Logan, Flores says. The young American girl had given her boyfriend a semi-nude photograph. But when the relationship ended, the boy sent Jessy’s image by mobile phone to all his classmates. A few days later Jessy committed suicide.
“From the very moment a picture is published on a digital device, even your own, it can appear somewhere else at any time, because you lose the device, because of a joke by a classmate, by mistake, by carelessness or by robbery,” Flores says. “So from that moment on, the image that was in theory only in one place becomes unrecoverable”.
And the real problems start if someone deliberately decides to use the images as a way to harass their owner, he adds.
There’s also a legal issue with under-age teens sharing nude photos of themselves, Flores says.
“Anyone who produces an image of a naked minor is producing child pornography. The owner and the distributor of the image are at fault.” What’s more, the photos could end up in the hands of paedophiles.
Flores has some key advice on dealing with the risks of sexting:
- Think seriously about the consequences of taking revealing pictures of yourself, or letting someone else take them.
- Remember that anything uploaded on a digital device can be published at any time.
- Life is long and nothing is forever: a close friend you trust can one day get mad at you and in a rage do something he or she later regrets.
Stand up to bullying. If someone is trying to blackmail you by threatening to spread compromising photos of you, don’t keep it to yourself. Blackmail is a criminal offence. Bite the bullet and ask for help – from your parents or someone you trust. Never give in to blackmail, because you could just make matters worse.
Sexting - do you do it? Is it worth the risk?
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