As a mother of women in their 20s, I'm witnessing a disturbing trend on the rise in the land of teenagers: "sending nudes." I've read countless articles written by young women who are inundated with photos of male genitalia while on dating apps and sites — as if this counts as courtship or a man putting his best foot forward. But what I'm also noticing is that it isn't only men of a certain age mixing nudity with technology, it is also girls, some as young as 13.
Take that in... 13-year-old girls sending nude photos of themselves. That is young. Much too young for that sort of behaviour.
Which brings me to this question: "What aren't parents of girls teaching them about modesty and valuing their bodies?" And if you're a parent who has had these conversations with your children about honouring and treating their bodies with the utmost respect, of not "giving it away" to anybody who asks for it, then what can be done to ensure that your kid doesn't become a closeted nude photo sender?
I'll tell you how we as parents accomplish this: we do so by having the conversation about valuing one's body, with our sons and daughters, consistently. And it needs to start sooner than you think. As parents, we cannot be shy about having sex talks with our kids. We no longer have that luxury because the internet and social media have taken it from us. Your kids have access to more porn, more chat groups, and people to "get sexual" with than you can even imagine.
You must be diligent. If you're not the one telling them about online etiquette and how to honour their bodies, they're going to turn to their friends for advice or succumb to peer pressure from the individuals requesting the nudes. You must teach them that no matter how many times somebody assures them that what they send will remain just between the two of them, that it is rarely the case. It is always better to err on the side of modesty and caution than trust — because once it's out on the internet, it's out there forever.
Parents, it is time for us to step up.
Take for example the group of young girls who were sending nudes to boys in Nova Scotia — they believed they were private photos only for the intended boy, until it was revealed that the boys were trading the photos amongst themselves like sports cards. This happening to these young girls is going to take me back to a place where I stand firm: it is equally, if not more important, that parents need to talk to their sons about respecting all women. Especially when it comes to honouring other people as human beings and not as objects, or commodities to be traded.
To be clear, I am not a prude. I think sex is one of the greatest ways to spend any time of any day, ever. I also firmly believe that whatever consensual activities an adult couple deems as fun, cool and hot for them in the bedroom is totally fine. But if we parents are not talking to our kids about the dangers of sending nude photos then the kids who opt to do so will, without fail, get the short end of the stick, over and over and over again.
Parents, it is time for us to step up. I still have these conversations with my daughters, regularly, and they're 28, 26 and 21. We must teach them that sexual liberty and confidence is not the same as sexual promiscuity — not at all. Sexual promiscuity will always come back and bite your daughter/son in the behind. Kids don't know this, but we do, so the onus is on us to teach them the difference. It's our job to teach our children from a young age how to treat other people with respect and honour, and while you're at it, teach them the art of flirting, self-worth and faith. Faith that if you hold what is of greatest value, their virtue, dear and true, the right person will come along to love, cherish and honour it, rather than throw it around like it is of no value at all.
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