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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Self-published child porn in UK

I just posted on youth as self-published pornographer, but here's an exhaustive take on the subject from across the Atlantic. In the UK so far, 90 UK youth "have been cautioned as a result of posting sexual material of themselves or their underage friends online or on their mobile phones," the Daily Mail reports. I'll tell you more about the piece in a second but want to zoom right in on the operative word "cautioned." Not "arrested," which is what I'm seeing in too many news reports about sexting over here. That, I think, is what has to be law enforcement's role where sexting's concerned: helping youth understand the tragic, potentially life-changing implications of this behavior. Police are often called in when these incidents involving students occur, and rightly so because this is technically child pornography we're talking about, and producing and distributing such is a crime. But where minors are concerned, this is much more a behavioral than a criminal issue, and I feel it has to be dealt with as such. At the very least school counselors and parents need to be involved as well (I'd appreciate your thoughts on this via anne(at)netfamilynews.org or our forum at ConnnectSafely.org). The article's exaggerated in places (e.g., "the avalanche of pornographic material beamed onto every computer screen unless it is actively blocked"), but the reporter, a foreign correspondent who'd just finished researching online pornography for BBC Radio 4 and - before talking with many UK secondary-school students about it - "was not prepared to hear they were also producing it" and to what extent. And she's a mother of three girls, 12, 14, and 15. "I spoke to children from a range of public and state schools. It is certainly not the case that this behaviour is being perpetrated by those from a deprived background or those who lack intelligence. In fact, it's the privileged, supposedly brightest youngsters who are most at risk," she reports.

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4 Comments:

Blogger clarinette said...

Dear Anne,

I am sharing some of my thought on your article on sexting in UK.

I don't know much about schools in the US but to compare with France, where states schools are of good standard, usually higher than private schools, in the UK, your chances of going to good universities are much higher if you went to a private school.

A typical private school that my kids experienced, we did two of them, have in common to be strongly competitive. Places are limited, you do need to be in top set if your parents wants to get their money back. Kids not older than 3 years old are sitting all day behind their tables doing serious counting, writing and spelling. They wear their badges on their blazers to show off their merits. They constantly compete with each other academically but also in sports, music, drama etc...

Parents, run and are themselves part of the competition. The wealth of the last 10 years has given them the chance to feel 'rich' and powerful, thanks to the banks generosity, they drive big cars, live in big houses and go shopping in Dubai or spend lovely holidays in Spain.

They drive their kids like a horse in a race course. They don't necessarily value education but they just want their kids to achieve the best position.

Birthday parties are there to compete for the biggest, the most extravagant, in one word, the most expensive. Limousine, Funfair, Makeups, sleep overs everything as big as you could imagine.

Kids get everything they wish, from the ipod to the iphone and of course the necessary element of communication : a laptop or a computer for the bedroom.

We are talking about kids who are highly pushed towards performance, kids who are asked to have 'mature' (better 'over-mature') behavior. Not only they have long days at school but many go to private tuition after school or extra classes such as 'kumon' etc... They all play a musical instrument, do extra-sportive activities and have their days mostly programmed.

They ware a smart uniform, they seat at the school assemblies and learn how to manipulate 'behavior' in order to 'perform'.


This is not without bullying issues, places are limited and they are thought that they have to 'kill their opponents' if they want to be in the top set. The luckiest will join the scholarship, not that would really get a much lower school fees but mostly, they will be the one guaranteed of getting the highest standard education prepared for the highly stressful 'common entrance exam at 11+ and finally the 13 entrance to the good high school.

At the end of each year, their parents will be invited to the school for a ceremonial 'prize giving day'. Some will only be there for applauding the others' kids while the luckiest would have done it!!! Bravo, they've achieved the goal!!!

What kids can feel? a huge stress. At a very early age, they are selected and labeled, academic or not academic. I will always remember the very clever headmaster of my daughter's school telling me how an 8 year old boy was a 'future mathematician'!!!!! Very clever man, he unfortunately died shortly after of a brain tumor.

Now, all this to explain why this 'sexting' can happen.

We are talking about kids who are terribly spoiled in one hand, they owe nearly everything they could dream of, on the other hand, they are 'highly expected', they have to perform, they have to behave, they have to be responsible or they are a 'looser'. Very early, they will have to learn to manipulate, to behave like their uniform at school and let it go as soon as they have taken it off. All is in contrast, the controlled behavior and the freedom they get at home.

Most of their time is organized and here comes the internet. Internet is the ONLY place of freedom they get. They have been asked to behave like grown ups, to independently flow from class to class like grown ups, to have all the competition stress of grown ups why not the Sex matters of the grown ups.

Internet is their only forum of free expression, they can finally let it go, it's their domain. They've been watching video clips of singers or TV programs that they want to auto-perform, they just forget that Internet is the MOST public place to express your ego. They don't know where else to go, they don't know who's there, they just need to continue to play, they play their inhibition of teenager discovering their bodies and the effect of their hormones.

It is sad and these kids are feeling the 'mal de l'etre' but don't know how to say it.

2:44 PM  
Blogger Coda said...

Evening Anne - I have enjoyed reading your posts. Demands on my time have prevented me from addressing a number of your requests. It is not my intention to pursue youth expression/ experimentation/ peer affirmation issues. The media is usually playing catch up - sexting was doing the rounds in 2007-8. The Daily Mail does have a reputation for sensationalising issues.

The Government is gradually having to confront some of the excesses of youth culture - sexting and binge drinking to name but two. But have we not seen this before? Rock and roll, Beatles and the Swinging Sixties come to mind.

3:16 PM  
Blogger Coda said...

May be of interest:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1167485/Facebook-friend-saves-life-suicidal-teenager-the-Atlantic.html

1:34 PM  
Blogger Anne said...

I had just seen that piece right before you posted the link! Tx for posting, Coda. Best,
Anne

11:01 PM  

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