27 Jan 2022

Sexting fears as Longford girl is asked for 'nude' images


The dangers of sexting has drawn an angry reaction from a Co Longford parent this week after her 13 year old daughter was asked to share nude images of herself

There are mounting fears that sexting - the sending and receiving of sexually explicit images - is becoming increasingly prevalent amongst teenagers after a Co Longford first year pupil was asked to share a naked image of herself on social media.

Mum of three Barbara Smyth warned of the dangers posed by the activity when she discovered her youngest daughter had been approached through multimedia messaging app, Snapchat.

ALSO READ: Valuable advice to Longford parents on keeping their children safe on social media

The former general and local election candidate said she was left dumbfounded at the revelations which emerged during the Halloween mid-term break.

“I was actually speaking with her older sister who is 17 and this subject of ‘nudes’ came up and she said she (younger sister) had been asked,” she said.

“I was just so, so shocked as she is only 13.

“I really couldn’t believe it and as soon as she got in I asked her and just said that she had my permission in no uncertain terms to tell these people where to go.

“I said to her ‘Have you shared any images? She said she hadn’t because when she was asked she went and asked my second oldest (daughter) who told her to them to f*** off.

“But you have kids out there who mightn’t have someone to talk to and then it could all just spiral from there.”

Barbara took to her own Facebook and Twitter pages in recent days to express her abhorrence at the news as well as the apparent rising trend of sexting between teenagers and young adolescents.

The post was one which attracted a large volley of support from like minded parents and social media activists, something Barbara confided she took no great pleasure in laying claim to.

In a bid to reserve her daughter’s right to privacy, she also requested the Leader to refrain from publishing her name and that of the school she attends.

That said, Barbara stressed the need for parents as well as schools to adopt a more vigilant stance when it comes to monitoring the activities of teenage behaviour online.

“It starts with the parents,” she said.

“They really need to sit down and speak with their boys and girls and explain to them the dangers of sharing these sexual images and the implications of it if they are caught.

“I think the schools also maybe need to step in and say if this happens then you are breaking this law, you are breaking that law.”

Details surrounding the approach, which was made to her own daughter, overrides a recent study which showed teenagers are 30 per cent more likely to send sexually explicit images to each other by the time they start the Leaving Certificate cycle than when they first enter secondary school.

It’s a departure Barbara believes will only serve to ask further questions of a much changed but ever evolving society.

“One of the biggest dangers is that you are in fact normalising porn for an age group who just don’t have the mental capacity to understand that this isn’t normal,” she said.

“I just don’t think they realise the implications of what they are doing and that’s the problem.”

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