Education experts are warning a “tsunami” of problems are about to hit our community as schools deal with a sexting crisis.
An Australian Institute of Criminology study fund a staggering 49 per cent of children as young as 13 have sent a sexual picture or video of themselves to someone else, while 67 per cent received a sexual image.
Award-winning journalist and author of “Being 14”, Madonna King, travels to Wagga on Tuesday for an evening address, says teenage girls are being caught up in a ‘tsunami’ of problems caused by social media.
“One third are having nude photos of themselves sent as a text. I don’t think we should be blaming the girl because in many cases, it’s being sent without their permission,” Ms King said.
Ms King says school principals have girls being publicly shamed to the point that they pull out of school, self harm or become suicidal.
“Social media envelops these girls, not only from a bullying sense, but the power of friendship groups; its all-in, or all-out; ‘you’re with us or you’re against us’; and that’s a terrible thing for some girls to feel they can’t leave or join a group because they’re judged,” Ms King said.
One Wagga mother said her daughter has been frozen out of so-called “popular” parties because she is too frightened of sending pictures. Another recalled the agony of watching her smart, confident and beautiful daughter crumble after her phone was hacked and pictures disseminated.
Add to this social media pressure on children as young as 10 to become sexually active or risk being ‘typecast’.
“Some girls are doing things with boys because of the kudos in that group for example, and it’s really difficult for these girls who are vulnerable and confused to be able to stand up to that,” Ms King said.
Masking the problem are skilled teachers turning out more educationally-sophisticated students giving a false sense of maturity.
“I interviewed girls across Australia; they could fight with me on feminism; they could write a 2000 word essay on the United Nations, but the moment you talk about boys or body image, they become almost someone else, and those critical thinking skills that allow them to obtain an educational standard, probably much better than us when we were that age, just flies out the window,” Ms King said.