NATIONAL NEWS - As National Child Protection Week draws to a close, the police have offered tips to parents to sensitise them to the dangers of sexting.
“Sexting is the act of sending a picture of yourself naked or semi-naked by using electronic means.
“It also involves sending flirtatious or sexual messages to others, often using acronyms and abbreviations,” the police said in a statement.
They said some of the dangers of sexting included losing control of the sent content, humiliation and social consequences.
“Once an image, message or video has been shared, the sender has lost control of where or how it will be distributed and humiliation can be caused by having it circulated.
“In some tragic cases, the level of despair and shame has led people to serious self-harm and even suicide,” the statement read.
In February, the media reported that a Doornpoort Primary School learner had committed suicide after a fellow learner threatened to distribute a video of the learner.
“A preliminary investigation suggests that the deceased learner was allegedly bullied by a fellow Grade 7 learner, who threatened to distribute video material depicting the deceased learner naked,” Gauteng education department spokesperson Steve Mabona said.
The Grade 6 learner was found by her mother. She had hanged herself.
The police said additional dangers of sexting could also be physical or sextortion.
“Sextortion (sex and extortion) occurs when extortionists and blackmailers leverage their knowledge of another’s indiscretions or their possession of compromising images and communications.
“There is no shortage of ‘sextortionists’ hoping to leverage their victim’s sexual content for their own financial or sexual, benefit.”
They said the physical consequences included increased chances of becoming a victim of physical abuse.
The police, however, advised parents to know how their children’s cellphones function and create rules which include knowing their child’s password and talking to them about how they could protect themselves.
“Parents should also learn the common acronyms children use online and in text messages and become involved in their children’s lives.”
They also advised parents to talk to their children about the dangers of sexting and let them know it was possible to meet predators who could take advantage of them.